How Bill Cosby Allegedly Silenced His Accusers Through A Tabloid Smear Campaign
Thus far, 18 women have alleged that Bill Cosby, the former puddin’ pop lovin’ patriarch on the revered sitcom The Cosby Show, sexually assaulted them between 1967 and 2004. Renewed interest in the case(s) was sparked last month, when stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress accused Cosby of being “a rapist” in a charged rant during his Philadelphia comedy set.
One of the most vocal of the alleged sexual assault victims is Andrea Constand, then 31, who claimed that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at his Pennsylvania mansion in 2004. Constand, a Canadian, reported the incident to the Durham, Ontario, police department, but no criminal charges were field against Cosby. The comedian did, however, settle a civil suit filed by Constand out of court that sought compensation for “mental anguish,” “post-traumatic stress disorder,” and the “loss of enjoyment of life’s pleasures.”
Constand’s complaint, filed February 1, 2006, makes an interesting allegation: That Cosby granted an exclusive interview to The National Enquirer in 2005 in exchange for the publication killing a story they were planning on running of another woman coming out with her story of a sexual assault by Cosby.
According to the 2006 complaint filed by Constand against The National Enquirer and Cosby’s attorney, the inimitable Marty Singer, on February 21, 2005, Cosby deigned to grant an exclusive interview to The National Enquirer “knowing it would injure Plaintiff, and to deprive her of her good name, credit and reputation.” In said interview, Cosby allegedly conveyed “either directly or by implication” that Constand “asked Cosby for money” before going to the police, which in Cosby’s eyes, represented a “classic shakedown” attempt. Constand claimed that the accusation was patently false, and demanded $150,000 in damages from the tabloid and attorney.
“I’m not saying that what I did was wrong, but I apologize to my loving wife, who has stood by my side for all these years,” Cosby told The Enquirer. “Sometimes you try to help people and it backfires. People can soil you by taking advantage… I am not going to give in to people who try to exploit me because of my celebrity status.”
But Constand’s 16-page complaint also details her alleged sexual assault at the hands of Cosby.
Around December 2001, Constand alleges she was employed at Temple University as Director of Operations for the Women’s Basketball program. She says she met Cosby, a Temple alumnus and big-time donor to the university, in November 2002.
Cosby allegedly “fostered a friendship” with Constand, and over time, “she considered him to be both her friend, albeit older, and a mentor,” according to the complaint. For over a year, she claims to have been friends with Cosby, discussing Temple women’s basketball, having conversations on the phone, and being his guest at dinner parties and events hosted by Cosby.
Then, in January 2004, Constand alleges Cosby invited her to his home in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, “telling her that he wanted to offer assistance in her pursuit of a different career.” Constand says she agreed to meet Cosby at his home at about 9 p.m., and during that fateful evening, Cosby “drugged the plaintiff and sexually assaulted her.”
Further details of the alleged sexual assault were outlined in a separate civil case, Constand v. Cosby, filed in Pennsylvania on June 2, 2005. That complaint alleged that “defendant deceived plaintiff into ingesting a narcotic or other type of drug which caused plaintiff to become semi-conscious, and thereafter defendant sexually assaulted plaintiff.” She hazily recalls Cosby allegedly touching her breasts and fondling her genitals, and that when she awoke, according to the complaint, she found her clothing scattered all over the floor and felt like she’d been violated.
She also contended that after reporting the allegations to the Durham police, Cosby and his reps “knowingly made false statements to the media” about Constand.
Now, here’s where things get tricky. In the 2005 case, Constand claimed to have 13 Jane Doe witnesses that would provide testimony against Cosby, and that those women “should be protected from public disclosure,” since there were “important privacy concerns at issue in disclosing the Jane Doe witnesses’ names and addresses to the media. In particular, the anticipated testimony of the Jane Doe witnesses relates details of alleged similar incidents of sexual assaults involving the defendant,” claimed Constand, further arguing that disclosing the Jane Doe witnesses’ identities “may place the Jane Doe witnesses at risk of physical and psychological harm” from “overly zealous fans and supporters of the celebrity defendant.” Ultimately, however, the court denied Constand’s motion for a protective order to protect the identity of her Jane Doe witnesses.
Constand’s 2006 complaint delved further into how Cosby and his lawyer at the time, Marty Singer, allegedly smeared her in the media.
Following Constand’s report that she filed with the Ontario police on January 13, 2005, Cosby and Singer allegedly “publicized statements” to Celebrity Justice that claimed “sources connected with Cosby” told the show that before Constand went to the police, her mother demanded money from the comedian. “We’re told she asked Cosby to help pay for her daughter’s education and to generally help her out financially, and this conversation occurred before the accuser ever contacted police,” claimed the Celebrity Justice segment. That claim was then picked up by Celebrity Justice, The Toronto Sun, Fox News, and other media outlets, who published Constand’s name, address, and/or picture in connection with the investigation—thus “making her identity as Cosby’s accuser recognizable to the public.”
Then, according to the complaint, on or around January 26, 2005, Cosby was interviewed by Cheltenham Township Police officers where he admitted that neither Constand nor her mother had asked for any money, but had only asked for Cosby to apologize to the two of them, which he did.
After that, Constand claimed Singer allegedly “informed Cosby that another woman, Beth Ferrier,” who was then working as a model, had contacted The National Enquirer and, according to the complaint, “alleged that Cosby sexually assaulted her after she unknowingly ingested a drug given to her by Cosby.” The Enquirer story was written by Robin Mizrahi, who interviewed Ferrier and had arranged for her to take a lie detector test.
On or around February 21, 2005, the 2006 complaint alleges that Cosby met with Enquirer representatives, including editor Barry Levine, in Houston, Texas. Prior to the meeting, Constand claimed that Cosby and Singer had met with The National Enquirer and agreed that “Cosby would provide an exclusive interview to Defendant The National Enquirer, if The National Enquirer would agree to refrain from printing the Beth Ferrier story.” The National Enquirer, Constand claimed in her complaint, then allegedly “provided a copy of the unpublished Beth Ferrier article to Cosby and his representatives,” and “also provided the interview of Cosby to Cosby and his representatives for his review, prior to publication.”
The planned Ferrier story was scraped, but she eventually told her story to the Philadelphia Daily News on June 23, 2005, which reported that, in 1984, after she ended a brief consensual affair with Cosby, he drugged her before a performance in Denver.
“He said, ‘Here’s your favorite coffee, something I made, to relax you,’” Ferrier, 46, told the Daily News. Then, she claims that after she drank the coffee, she felt woozy. She woke up and realized she had no recollection of the past several hours.
“I woke up and I was in the back of my car all alone,” Ferrier said. "My clothes were a mess. My bra was undone. My top was untucked. And I'm sitting there going, ‘Oh my God. Where am I?’ What's going on? I was so out of it. It was just awful.”
She then claimed that security guards approached her car saying Cosby told them to escort her home. According to the Daily News, Ferrier sold her story to The Enquirer for $7,500, and was interviewed by the publication and even passed a lie detector test.
As for Constand, the prosecutor in her case, Bruce Castor, a former district attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, recently told NBC10 in Philadelphia that he didn’t charge Cosby with sexual assault even though he thought Cosby “did it.”
“At the time I remember thinking that he probably did do something inappropriate,” said Castor. “But thinking that and being able to prove it are two different things.”