Philadelphia-born comedian Bill Cosby, 79, is one of the world’s most recognizable celebrities. His reputation went into a tailspin starting in 2014, after a video of another comedian assailing him as a rapist went viral and brought new attention to previous allegations of his sexual assaults of women.
THE DEFENSE ARGUMENT
In a two-hour closing argument on Monday, Cosby lawyer Brian J. McMonagle painted his accuser, Andrea Constand, as a liar who badly damaged her credibility with conflicting statements to police when she first came forward in 2005. By contrast, he said, Cosby’s statements about the case have remained consistent over 12 years.
Constand, 44, met Cosby in 2001 when she was working for Temple University’s women’s basketball program. Constand has described Cosby as a mentor but insists she had no romantic feelings toward him, as she is gay.
THE PROSECUTION’S ARGUMENT
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele, in his closing, said the key facts were not contested during the trial and Constand’s statements had remained consistent: Cosby gave her pills at his Cheltenham home in 2004 and they had a sexual encounter. He told the jury: “She’s [passed] out and you’re doing stuff to her? It’s not right. And it’s criminal.”
TIMELINE OF THE CASE
December: Constand begins work as director of operations for the Temple University women’s basketball team. In that role, she meets Cosby, a renowned alumnus, who becomes her mentor and friend.
January: Constand visits Cosby’s home. There, prosecutors say, Cosby drugs Constand and assaults her while she is unconscious.
January: Constand reports the incident to Cheltenham Township police.
February: Bruce L. Castor Jr., then the Montgomery County district attorney, says there is insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Cosby.
March: Constand sues Cosby in federal court in Philadelphia.
November: Cosby and Constand settle out of court for an undisclosed amount. The settlement also binds both to a confidentiality agreement.
October: During a performance in Philadelphia, comedian Hannibal Buress assails Cosby as a rapist. Video of his remarks, delivered during a standup routine, go viral.
November: Cosby cancels public appearances. NBC scraps a Cosby show that was under development.
December: Cosby steps down from Temple’s board of trustees.
Spring: Dozens of women come out publicly with allegations of unwanted sexual contact by Cosby. Nearly all their claims are beyond the criminal statute of limitations, some are even decades old. Cosby’s lawyers say he has never assaulted anyone.
July 6: A federal judge in Philadelphia unseals portions of Cosby’s deposition from the 2005 civil case. In it, Cosby admitted to obtaining sedatives to give to women before sex.
July 10: Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman reopens the criminal probe into Constand’s claim.
August: Investigators travel to Toronto to re-interview Constand about the alleged assault.
October: Cosby becomes a central figure in the race for Montgomery County district attorney between Steele, Ferman’s first assistant, and Castor, who is seeking his old job. Steele runs TV ads claiming Castor failed to prosecute Cosby. Castor counters that Steele could act to arrest Cosby.
Oct. 26: Constand files a defamation lawsuit against Castor, claiming he undermined her credibility for political gain.
Nov. 4: Steele wins the election over Castor.
Dec. 30: Steele announces a charge of felony indecent assault against Cosby, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of up to a decade in prison. Cosby’s lawyers vow “a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge” and predict he’ll be exonerated.
January: A purported oral “nonprosecution agreement” between Castor and Cosby becomes public. Cosby’s lawyers say the entertainer received a legally binding agreement from Castor not to prosecute; in exchange, Cosby agreed to testify in Constand’s civil suit. The deal was not put in writing.
Feb. 3: A Montgomery County judge rejects Cosby’s motion to dismiss his sex assault case, ruling that a promise from the county’s former district attorney was not legally binding and didn’t bar prosecutors from charging the comedian.
Oct. 12: Superior Court rejects Cosby’s attempt to halt proceedings because prosecutors relied on statements Constand gave police instead of calling her to testify at the May preliminary hearing.
Dec. 5: A judge rules that prosecutors can tell jurors about damaging, decade-old testimony in which Cosby acknowledged offering drugs to women he wanted to seduce.
Feb. 24: A judge rules that prosecutors can call only one additional accuser to testify at Cosby’s trial, a key legal win for the entertainer.
Feb. 27: A judge rules that Cosby’s trial will be held in Norristown but jurors will be selected from elsewhere.
May 24: Jury selection in Pittsburgh is complete, with seven men and five women selected.
June 5: Cosby’s trial begins in Norristown. Kelly Johnson, as assistant for Cosby’s agent, testifies about how the entertainer allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her in a Los Angeles hotel room two decades ago. Johnson is the only one of the more than 60 women who have made claims about Cosby who was permitted to testify at trial.
June 6: Speaking publicly for the first time, Constand describes the alleged 2004 assault, saying the three blue pills Cosby gave her left her woozy and powerless to react. Cosby’s lawyers point out inconsistencies in her account.
June 7: Defense lawyers resume questioning of Constand, who remains firm in her allegations. Constand’s mother also testifies, saying her daughter had nightmares after the alleged attack, and that when she learned about it a year after it occurred, she called Cosby to confront him.
June 8: Cosby’s description in a 2005 deposition of the night Constand says he drugged and sexually assaulted her is read aloud in court. Also, a detective who in 2005 investigated Constand’s claim suggested he and other investigators were caught off guard when Castor abruptly shut down the probe.
June 9: The prosecution closes its case by having the jurors listen to excerpts from Cosby’s deposition in which he admitted obtaining powerful sedatives to give to women with whom he hoped to have sexual encounters.
June 12: The defense calls one witness and rests its case. Cosby does not take the stand. Lawyers on both sides present impassioned closing arguments. The jury begins deliberations after Judge Steven T. O’Neill instructs them on the law in the case.
— Emily Babay, Jeremy Roebuck, and Laura McCrystal