Bill Cosby’s former squeaky-clean image is long gone by now — and that’s a massive understatement. The total of women accusing the comedy legend of sexual abuse has currently reached 47 — and that number seems to keep growing as days go by. Some of the incidents date back more than four decades, and the similarities between them are baffling.
Back in November, when the first series of accusers came out, we wondered in shock if TV’s beloved Dr. Huxtable could actually be a serial rapist. But what originally were just allegations that Cosby repeatedly denied and denounced as lies, have taken a very real turn this week.
On Monday, at the request of the Associated Press, a previously sealed Cosby deposition from 2005 was released. The 77-year-old comedian admitted under oath at the time that he obtained Quaaludes with the intention of giving them to women he planned to have sex with.
The testimony happened 10 years ago, when a woman named Andrea Constand, the former director of operations for the Temple University women’s basketball team, filed a lawsuit accusing Cosby of drugging and molesting her at his Pennsylvania home in 2004.
In a new piece of information from the records, Cosby actually said that he had seven prescriptions for Quaaludes and had given them to other people. When asked who these people were, Cosby’s lawyers quickly re-directed the question to focus on the specific plaintiff, but it was suggested that this could have been a behavioral pattern and not an isolated case.
He was then asked: “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?”
“Yes,” Cosby said.
One woman claimed Cosby had sex with her after giving her Quaaludes when she was 19. To this, Cosby replied: “She meets me back stage. I give her Quaaludes. We then have sex. I do not… I can’t judge at this time what she knows about herself for 19 years, a passive personality.”
When referring specifically to Constand, though, Cosby believes she consented to have sex with him. Constand disagreed. At the time, all she asked from him was an apology, but Cosby offered her money nonetheless, which he claims was intended for her “educational trust.”
Cosby was never criminally charged, in spite of these claims, and the case was settled for undisclosed terms in 2006.
The documents were unsealed by federal judge Eduardo C. Robreno, who actually cited Cosby’s now infamous “Pound Cake” speech as a legal justification for making the deposition public. The comedian’s general posture was questioned as a possible example of the moral hypocrisy that surrounds his words and actions.
“Looking at the incarcerated, these are not political criminals,” Cosby said in his popular 2004 speech. “These are people going around stealing Coca Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged: ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him.’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?”
While back then he was respected for his strict moral stance on a lecture like that, people may have gotten the idea that he wasn’t being totally sincere when… you know… dozens of women have accused him of drugging them and raping them!
“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,” Robreno wrote in the 25-page memorandum.
Cosby’s lawyers tried to fight the documents’ release, claiming it would be “terribly embarrassing” for him.
Well, no shit! But we might be a little past embarrassment at this point. Robreno questioned the lawyers’ claim, asking, “Why would he be embarrassed by his own version of the facts?”
The judge is likely holding Cosby accountable for his many years as a moral crusader, which ironically could end up being what finally gets him in the legal trouble he’s somehow managed to avoid for decades.
“This case is not about the Defendant’s status as a public person by virtue of the exercise of his trade as a televised or comedic personality,” Robreno explained. “Rather, Defendant has donned the mantle of public moralist and mounted the proverbial electronic or print soap box to volunteer his views on, among other things, childrearing, family life, education, and crime. To the extent that Defendant has freely entered the public square and ‘thrust himself into the vortex of the public issue,’ he has voluntarily narrowed the zone of privacy that he is entitled to claim.”
While Cosby did admit getting pills for women with the intention of having sex with them, he has never said he raped any of the women, which is why this isn’t quite a molestation confession.
The problem with a lot of the rape allegations is that most of them happened so long ago that the statute of limitations has expired in almost all of them. In theory, a deposition where he admits intention in a case so old doesn’t prove any of the future charges against him; because of this, the deposition is believed to be inadmissible to prosecute Cosby.
Having said that, there might be some loopholes here.
Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represents 17 Cosby accusers, is hopeful that Judy Huth’s civil suit against the comedian can use this now-public admission in court. Huth claims to have been molested by Cosby at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15 years old, back in the 1970s.
Under California laws, allegations of underage sexual abuse can be used in civil suits even decades later. The only condition is that it requires a mental health practitioner to certify there was a reasonable basis to believe the accusations. Huth is now 55 years old.
“We are very hopeful that we will be able to use this admission in the case of Judy Huth v. Bill Cosby, which Mr. Cosby is attempting to block by filing a writ with the California Supreme Court,” Allred said. “Coincidentally, [on Monday] we filed a brief on behalf of Ms. Huth in the California Supreme Court in opposition to Mr. Cosby’s effort to have Ms. Huth’s case dismissed.”
Even if this fails, there’s also the element of the defamation suits against Cosby, who has accused many of the women of lying. This is particularly relevant in the Janice Dickinson case, the former supermodel and arguably the alleged victim with the highest public profile.
“Mr. Cosby now acknowledges that he procured drugs for the purpose of having sex with young women,” said Lisa Bloom, attorney for Dickinson’s defamation case. “This is an admission against his interest and establishes one of the issues in the case in our favor.”
They’re not the only plaintiffs who believe this new wrinkle might tip the scales against Cosby. Several other women and their attorneys are hopeful this could re-open their cases.
“It’s going to help all three of my clients,” another lawyer, Joe Cammarata, assured. “Cosby said he never used drugs to get sex, this testimony under oath where he admits to using drugs to get sex undermines his public pronouncements… If it happened, then [the clients] are truth-tellers and they win.”
Cosby’s public image was at an all-time low at the end of last year, but he still counted with many supporters. In an act of defiance and moral hubris, Cosby toured with his stand up act the following months, packing clubs and theaters all over the country.
Yet some of the people who had been publicly advocating for Cosby’s innocence are singing a different tune with these new findings. Jill Scott had famously said back in December that the allegations against the comedian were “insane.” After hearing this week’s public testimony, she has radically changed her mind.
Weirdly enough, even after all these new statements came out, there are still people defending Cosby. Fellow delusional comedian Whoopi Goldberg, who in the past has also gone out of her way to support him, reiterated on The View on Tuesday that no actual rape has been determined, and she believes in Cosby’s innocence until proven guilty.
“We’ll see what happens as more information comes out, people will make judgments,” Goldberg said. “I don’t like snap judgments because I’ve had snap judgments made on me, so I’m very, very careful… save your texts, save your nasty comments — I don’t care.”
The vast majority of the world, though, is probably not going to be as forgiving.