16 Allegations of Sexual Assault: The Rise and Fall of the Cosby Empire

When the allegations came pouring in around February 2014 that Bill Cosby, beloved actor and idol, had raped and sexually-assaulted a number of women it seemed that the world could bat its eyelashes and close its ears and will it all away. However, that was not the case. While the actor had been accused throughout a period of ten years, it is only recently that backlash from the community has caught up to Mr. Cosby. Originally in 2004, Cosby was accused of sexual assault by one woman and as of November 2014, he had been accused of rape and sexual assault by 16 women.

Cosby, born in 1937 in Pennsylvania, began his career as a stand-up comedian in the early 60’s followed by a break-out role on the drama I Spy, in which he starred as a tennis trainer for three years. Cosby continued to act and perform comedy, which made him incredibly famous and won him Grammys for his comedy specials in ’65-’70 and ’87, along with three Emmys in ’66-’68 for his role in I Spy. Cosby stared in a number of films (including made-for-tv specials) until he landed, arguably, his most famous role as Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable on the comedy series, The Cosby Show, between ’84 and ‘92. Cosby’s success was built on the portrait of him as a honest, loving father-figure. So when allegations came through that Bill Cosby, a national treasure, had violated 16 women, an entire nation of fans, devotees, and inspired audiences were left broken-hearted and missing their hero.

Bill Cosby was first dethroned in 2004 when Andrea Constand, director of operations at Temple University, publicly accused the actor of drugging, sexually-assaulting, and “digitally-raping” her. According to Constand, Cosby had drugged Ms. Constand and inappropriately touched her person, forced her into compromising scenarios involving her touching his penis, and had inserted his fingers into her vaginal area. These allegations were denied ferociously by Cosby’s attorney and ABC News implied that the allegations from Constand were possibly falsified, and the actions had been “possibly consensual.”

Tamara Green

In 2005, another allegation came in from a female lawyer named Tamara Green who stated that Cosby had also sexually assaulted her after he had drugged her. Green alleged that Cosby, who has drugged her on the pretense that he was providing her medicine for a fever, left $100 for her on a table after the assault took place. Once again, Cosby’s lawyer denied everything. By March 2005, an alarming thirteen women addressed the courts of law claiming to have been sexually assaulted by Cosby. All thirteen of them remained anonymous, going by Jane Doe, until June of that year when a woman named Beth Ferrier went public with her story. She claimed to be in a relationship with Cosby when he had sexually assaulted her.

Modeling headshot of Bowman in 1987, age 19, 2 years after alleged rape by Cosby 

In June 2006, Barbara Bowman recounted to a Philadelphia magazine her story of how Cosby raped her in 1985 at age 17, and in December of that same year, Bowman provided new details to her story claiming that she was assaulted numerous times by Cosby. Bowman remembers visiting his Brownstone in New York and staying for dinner with a glass of wine, "when [she] came to, [she] was in [her] panties and a man’s t-shirt, and Cosby was looming over [her]." During this time, it was revealed that 3 of the Jane Does accepted money from Cosby who paid the women after performing sexual acts with them. During February 2014, both Bowman and Green were interviewed about their experiences where Green was alleged to have called Cosby a “liar,” “rapist,” and an “asshole.” The public opinion of Cosby had dramatically dwindled since November 2014 and in an attempts to jumpstart his career and his image, Cosby launched a re-vamping via meme in which he hopped to appeal to his fans. 

Cosby was met with severe backlash when people took to Twitter, calling him a rapist. Bowman released an op-ed piece a few days later titled “Bill Cosby raped me. Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story?” Cosby remained silent when questioned by NPR about the ordeal. In November 2014, a string of celebrities including models Janice Dickinson and Jewel Allison came forward to disclose their own experiences with Cosby. Dickinson stated that Cosby had raped her in ’82 and Allison confessed a similar story of her attack in the 80’s. Both women were drugged and had little recollection of the events at the time but were able to remember clear images of Cosby disrobing himself, mounting the women, and the aftermath of the assaults. 

Model Janice Dickinson, pictured left 

Dickinson reported visibly seeing semen the following morning as she laid sore upon the bed and Allison reported Cosby forcing her into touching his penis before calling a cab; she said in an interview, “There's no such thing as Cliff Huxtable, there's just a man named Bill Cosby. He's a very sick sociopath.” All these allegations have amounted to an increasing wave of support for the women and their bravery in sharing their stories along with hatred for Cosby from the community. Included in this backlash is the dropping of Cosby’s comedy special from Netflix, the dropping of episodes of The Cosby Show from networks, and the renouncing of Cosby from his Alma Matar. But as Bowman had asked in her op-ed, why are people only now beginning to understand the severity of the repeated scenarios that had been reported in the media? Why is the public only now beginning to sympathize with the victims? 

This can be explained by the victim-blame theory. The victim-blame theory occurs when a crime has been committed and the perpetrator is a beloved figure, such as a celebrity or well-respected politician, or because the act itself fails to resonate with the majority of the community. It results in a massive and often public backlash where the victim begins to receive hatred and is seen as villainous for attempts to extort money, fame, or goods from the opposing party through their allegations. The origin of this theory traces back to early 70’s psychology, but has existed since its introduction to the public. Victims often suffer major psychological damage from the lack of support, isolation and harassment directed towards them. 

Allegations against Cosby are still pouring in and the debate remains open as to whether or not the actor is guilty, and if he is, what should become of him? It’s very often the case that a celebrity is given a lesser sentence or pardoned altogether from crimes due to their power as a celebrity. Yet, Cosby’s lack of supporting counter evidence and the similarities between all sixteen allegations propel him further into the realm of guilt and unanimous public disapproval. When celebrities receive the star treatment in court, it is often the result of obvious attempts by victims to exaggerate their stories in order to extort ridiculous amounts of money and reparations. However, the fact that over a dozen are telling an identical story, a story that does not seem far-fetched, given the nature of rape and style in which it was carried out (numerous cases of rape begin with the victim being drugged and assaulted in a state of un or semi-consciousness), the possibility that the court will favor the women and sentence Cosby is likely to become reality. Still, the story is far from over and new information on the case could shock the masses and prove that Cosby is innocent, which makes me wonder, what will become of the victims?

Will Cosby sue for the slander of his image and his name? Regardless of who is found guilty or sentenced, the entirety of the situation is disappointing. Here’s to looking at the bright side and hoping for conclusion that brings about the most appropriate course of action, and here is to loss of Dr. Huxtable. We will remember him fondly.

Sources:

http://www.vulture.com/2014/09/timeline-of-the-abuse-charges-against-cos...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/11/13/bill-cosby-ra...

Photo Sources:

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http://img2-1.timeinc.net/ew/dynamic/imgs/080425/Doctors/Cosby-Show-Bill...

http://cbsnews1.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2013/10/23/13218f78-3bb8-11e3-8d5...

http://assets-s3.usmagazine.com/uploads/assets/articles/80008-janice-dic...

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