Bill Cosby is guilty, the jury in his indecent assault trial decided today, after about 14 hours of deliberation. The legendary comedian and accused serial rapist was facing three charges of aggravated indecent assault in the trial, all stemming from a 2004 incident when he drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand. The comedian could face up to 10 years in prison per count.
Constand is one of over 50 women who have accused the 80-year-old Cosby of sexual misconduct stretching back to the 1960s. The first allegations were made public in 2004, when Constand, a former employee at Cosby’s alma mater Temple University, accused him of abusing her after drugging her. Multiple previous victims came forward in 2005 during a civil claim Constand filed in 2005. Cosby settled out of court a year later and, despite media attention at the time, either society collectively forgot that the beloved sitcom dad from the ‘80s was accused of serious sex crimes, or just decided that it was better to never think about it. Although it was occasionally mentioned here and there afterward, including a memorable joke in 30 Rock, Cosby went on with his career as if nothing had happened, making commencement speeches, collecting honorary degrees, and planning various television projects.
Cosby’s misdeeds were reignited in the public’s eyes in October 2014 after a stand-up routine by Hannibal Buress went viral. Despite having performed the same material many times throughout the year, Buress’s set in Philadelphia on October 16 was recorded and posted on the internet, at which point knowledge of the accusations hit critical mass. As the media started to focus on the allegations again, dozens more women came forward with stories very similar to the earlier accusers.
Cosby’s career was quickly derailed. A planned television series on NBC, the home of his massive ‘80s show, was scrapped in preproduction. Netflix scrapped an exclusive stand-up special that was scheduled to be released in November 2014. Several TV stations pulled reruns of The Cosby Show from their schedules. Most, if not all, of those honorary degrees have been revoked.
Many of the accusations were too old to take to trial, but in December 2015 Cosby was charged with three Class II felonies in Pennsylvania over the Constand incident. The first trial ended in a mistrial in 2017, but this month’s retrial ended with Cosby convicted of all three counts. If sentenced to the maximum punishment, the 80-year-old comedian will be facing 30 years in prison. One of the most important comedians ever, who helped break down the color barrier in entertainment, and was the biggest TV star of the 1980s, has destroyed his own legacy through his horrible actions. Bill Cosby’s a rapist, and will now be paying the price for his crimes.