Bill Cosby sentencing: A timeline of key events in the sexual assault case, from accusation to verdict
Bill Cosby faced the start of a sentencing hearing on Monday at which a judge will decide how to punish the 81-year-old comedian, who blazed the trail for other black entertainers and donated millions to black causes but preyed on at least one young woman and perhaps many more.
Cosby was the first celebrity to go to trial in the #MeToo era and could be the first to go to prison — perhaps for the rest of his days — after being convicted in April of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
Here are the key events in the case:
Cosby meets Constand at Temple University in Philadelphia, his alma mater, where she manages the women’s basketball team and he serves as a celebrity booster and trustee.
January: Cosby drugs and assaults Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home, according to her testimony. The defence says any sexual encounter was consensual and happened earlier. The timing is important because Cosby was charged only a few days before the statute of limitations was set to kick in. Cosby has said he gave her three blue pills to alleviate stress before lying on the couch with her and engaging in sex acts. Cosby was 66, Constand was 30.
January: Constand, now back home in suburban Toronto, tells her mother something happened with Cosby. They go to police, who suggest they record him on a phone call. On the call, Cosby said he engaged in “digital penetration” but refuses to say what pills he gave her. The case is referred to Pennsylvania authorities. Cosby lawyer Walter Phillips calls the allegations “pointedly bizarre.” Constand tells The Philadelphia Inquirer, “I did what I thought was right.”
February: Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor announces he will not charge Cosby. He considers the case weak, citing the yearlong delay, Constand’s continued contact with Cosby and the failure of other accusers now coming forward to have ever filed a police complaint.
March: Constand sues Cosby for sexual battery and defamation.
November: Cosby settles the case for nearly $3.4 million after giving four days of deposition testimony about his affairs with young women over a span of 50 years. A confidentiality agreement prevented either side from discussing the case, and the settlement amount was only released during this month’s retrial.
October: Comedian Hannibal Burress calls Cosby a rapist in a standup act caught on video and shared online. More women accuse Cosby of assaulting them.
December: The Associated Press petitions to have documents in Constand’s 2005 lawsuit unsealed. Cosby fights the request.
July: US Judge Eduardo Robreno grants the AP’s motion, saying “the stark contrast between Bill Cosby, the public moralist and Bill Cosby, the subject of serious allegations concerning improper (and perhaps criminal) conduct, is a matter as to which the AP — and by extension the public — has a significant interest.” The documents include deposition excerpts in which Cosby acknowledges giving a series of women pills and alcohol before sex.
August: Montgomery County authorities reopen the 2005 criminal case, aware the 12-year statute of limitations for aggravated sexual assault has not yet run.
30 December: Cosby is arrested, enters a not-guilty plea and is released on $1 million bail.
17 June: After more than 52 hours of deliberations over six days at his first trial, jurors report they are deadlocked, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial. Prosecutors immediately announce they’ll put him on a trial a second time.
August: Cosby hires new lawyers, including Tom Mesereau, the high-profile attorney who won an acquittal in Michael Jackson’s child molestation case.
January: Cosby performs in public for the first time since the scandal broke in 2015, taking the stage for about an hour at a Philadelphia jazz club.
March: Judge Steven O’Neill agrees to let five additional accusers testify at the retrial, giving prosecutors a chance to portray Cosby as a serial predator who drugged and molested women. The defence argues that “ancient allegations” would confuse, distract and prejudice the jury.
3 April: The judge gives Cosby’s legal defence a huge lift by saying they can call a witness, Marguerite Jackson, who says Constand talked about framing a celebrity before she lodged sexual abuse allegations against Cosby in 2005. The judge also helps the defence case by ruling jurors can hear how much Cosby ultimately paid Constand in the 2006 civil settlement.
4-5 April: A jury of seven men and five women — 10 of them white, two of them black — is seated. Three of the six alternates are black.
9 April: Cosby’s retrial begins.
12 April: Former model Janice Dickinson tells jurors the comedian gave her a pill he claimed would ease her menstrual cramps but instead left her immobilised and unable to stop an assault she called “gross.”
13, 16 April: Constand takes the stand for two days, telling jurors Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called “your friends.” During cross-examination, Cosby’s lawyers tried to show her as a “con artist.”
18 April: Defence star witness Marguerite Jackson testifies Constand talked about framing a celebrity for a big payout.
24 April: Cosby’s lawyers launch a withering attack on Constand and five other women in closing arguments. Defence attorney Kathleen Bliss chastises Constand for “cavorting around with a married man old enough to be her grandfather.”
26 April: Cosby is convicted on three charges of aggravated indecent assault. His lawyer says the “fight is not over” and he plans to appeal.
31 May: The woman whose allegations that Cosby drugged and assaulted her led to his conviction said the pills he gave her made her feel like a “limp noodle,” leaving her helpless to fend off the 2004 attack.
14 July: Cosby ousts the high-powered defence team whose aggressive tactics failed to sway jurors from convicting him of sexual assault in April.
24 July: A Pennsylvania board recommends Cosby be classified as a sexually violent predator, which would require the former TV star to attend at least monthly sex offender counseling — in prison and out — and police to post warning flyers throughout his neighborhood whenever he is freed.
30 July: Cosby’s lawyers challenge the legality of the process under which a Pennsylvania board recommended he be classified as a sexually violent predator.
31 July: Pennsylvania’s highest court considers whether the state can lawfully designate certain sex offenders as sexually violent predators. Cosby’s attorneys also challenge the constitutionality of the law.
4 September: Prosecutors in the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby asks a judge to allow testimony at his sentencing hearing about uncharged criminal conduct.
5 September: A former member of Cosby’s defence team sues him for more than $50,000 in unpaid legal fees.
10 September: Cosby’s lawyers fight a prosecution bid to have other accusers testify at his sentencing this month on felony sex assault charges. Prosecutors in Pennsylvania want at least some of Cosby’s dozens of other accusers to testify at the 24 September sentencing. Five testified at the spring trial, when jurors convicted Cosby of drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
11 September: Cosby wants a Pennsylvania judge to step down from his case days before sentencing on sex assault charges.
13 September: The prosecutor in Bill Cosby’s sex-assault case opposes the actor’s demand that the trial judge step down before this month’s sentencing.
17 September: Cosby’s wife, Camille, intensifies her attacks on a judge she has called “arrogant,” ″corrupt” and “unethical,” and says the family had filed an ethics complaint and hired a former FBI agent to investigate him.
And it all leads to the sentencing on 24 September. At the end of the potentially two-day hearing, Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill could sentence Cosby to as much as 30 years in prison or send him home on probation. The state guidelines for someone like Cosby, with no prior convictions, call for about one to four years behind bars.
(With inputs from The Associated Press)
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Updated Date: Sep 24, 2018 17:15:30 IST