How Bill Cosby Ultimately Sealed His Own Fate

Matt Rourke/AP

For nearly 12 years, comedian Bill Cosby dodged criminal charges for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in his Pennsylvania home in 2004.

He tried to make it go away himself in 2005, before the police got involved, but Constand went to the police anyway.

They investigated, but the then-prosecutor declined to bring charges.

A civil lawsuit Constand then filed against Cosby was settled under seal in 2006, with few of the details becoming public.

And there things remained for nine years, until the number of women going public with decades-old stories of Cosby drugging and sexually assaulting them became overwhelming. With the allegations against Cosby mounting, the Associated Press sought access to the sealed records in Constand’s civil suit, and in July of this year, a federal judge ordered their release.

The case documents contained some of the most damning evidence against Cosby, in his own words. It prompted renewed interest in the case by a new prosecutor in the suburban Philadelphia community where Cosby lives.

The timeline of how the case almost went away forever, then came roaring back to life, was laid out in a police affidavit made public Wednesday along with the first criminal charges against the iconic entertainer.

Constand, a Temple University employee affiliated with the women’s basketball team, visited Cosby at his Cheltenham Township residence one evening in early 2004, according to the affidavit. After telling Cosby, a friend and mentor, that she was feeling unwell, he urged her to take three blue pills, she would later tell police.

Constand later said that Cosby didn’t tell her what kind of pills they were, allegedly saying only that they would “take the edge off” and to “down them.” He then gave her a glass of wine and told her to “relax” on a sofa in the living room, where he digitally penetrated and fondled her. She recounted being aware of him touching her but feeling “paralyzed” and unable to move.

According to the affidavit, months later, after Constand admitted to her parents that she had been sexually assaulted, Constand’s mother called the comedian for an explanation. Cosby admitted to her in a series of January 2005 phone calls that the sexual touching occurred, profusely apologized and offered to cover the costs of her daughter’s therapy. He suggested they fly down to Florida so he could work things out, and said he would pay Constand’s tuition for graduate school.

Constand reported the alleged assault to the police, who launched an investigation. The affidavit includes Cosby’s statements to investigators, in which he allegedly said that he gave Constand Benadryl pills and then the two had a “consensual” sexual encounter. In February 2005, after reviewing the investigation, then-District Attorney Bruce L. Castor, Jr., declined to pursue criminal charges against the comedian.

Constand promptly filed a civil suit against Cosby, accusing him of battery, sexual assault and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” The case was settled out of court in July 2006, but Cosby’s troubles were far from over.

In the years following the settlement, dozens of women—lawyers, actresses, models and bartenders—came forward with their own charges of sexual assault against Cosby. The details of their stories, which often involved being offered pills or alcohol or a combination of the two by the comedian before the assault occurred, closely mirrored those of Constand’s.

By 2015, over 50 women had accused the comedian of sexual assault.

In July, a federal judge unsealed portions of the deposition in Constand’s civil lawsuit after the Associated Press went to court to compel their release. Among the documents were transcripts of Cosby’s own deposition testimony in the case, four day’s worth given over a period of several months.

In his decade-old deposition testimony, Cosby spoke openly of providing Constand with pills, giving her a glass of wine, and then touching her breasts and vagina. His description of the incident matched that given by Constand in many key respects, but he claimed the sexual encounter was entirely consensual.

In his testimony, Cosby admitted that he had seven prescriptions in his name for Quaaludes, a sedative that he did not take himself. He acknowledged that he gave them to women before having sex with them, knowing it was illegal to do so.

“When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” the plaintiff’s lawyer, Dolores Troiani, asked Cosby.

“Yes,” he replied.

According to the affidavit, these damning statements, as well as the public claims of assault made by other women, compelled District Attorney Risa Vetri Furman to reopen the criminal investigation closed by her predecessor.

The affidavit notes that Constand’s consent was legally impossible given that “she was fluctuating in and out of consciousness.”

Pennsylvania law gives prosecutors up to 12 years to bring charges for certain sex crimes. With just weeks before the statute of limitations expires, Cosby was charged with a single count of aggravated indecent assault, a second-degree felony. He will be arraigned in state court in Montgomery County on Wednesday afternoon.