The first time that Bill Cosby was accused of sexual misconduct, the news barely made a ripple. At the time, nobody wanted to accept that America’s most famous dad was a sexual predator capable of such horrific behavior, but times have changed. After becoming a near-constant in our homes with
The Bill Cosby Show (1969-1971), The Cosby Show (1984-1992), and Cosby (1996-2000), the man known for his wholesome family values and colorful sweaters was found guilty on three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault, making him the first celebrity to fall in court since the MeToo movement took off. What started as a social media hashtag turned into a genuine movement, and as more and more victims came forward, ripples turned into waves and left men such as Cosby with nowhere to hide.
The disgraced comic will be remembered as a sex offender rather than an award winning entertainer, with his contribution to American pop culture forever tarnished. Cosby’s guilty verdict only raises more questions about the man’s past, which may have included some clues about his true nature. This is the untold truth of Bill Cosby.
He served in the military
The son of a maid and a Navy sailor, Bill Cosby was born in Philadelphia in 1937. After dropping out of high school at age 19, Cosby followed in his father’s footsteps and signed up for a life on the seas, though he never went too far. He was part of the medical unit at the Marine base at Quantico, Va. and also served at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he cared for Korean War casualties. He earned his GED through the Navy and planned to become a gym teacher after he was discharged so he could help kids who struggled academically, just like he did.
“I saw this as an opportunity to save, not the world, but save those boys and I pinpointed the seventh and eighth grade boys who might be thinking the way I thought about life,” Cosby told M Live in 2013. “I was going to bring it to their attention the same way they were doing in the Navy. No, I wasn’t going to their house and ripping up their bed and throwing the mattress out. But in school, as a physical education teacher, I knew the combination of sports, academics and behavior and thinking and getting one’s self-esteem up through threats, not of violence, just anger, that I would get them and make them realize what they were messing up.”
He became a star athlete
Cosby became a decorated member of the Navy track team during his service. He toured the country to compete in events, though it wasn’t always the happiest of times for him — when the team visited cafes on the road, he was sometimes forced to eat in the kitchen because of the color of his skin. After Cosby left the Navy in 1960, Temple University in Philadelphia offered him a place, so long as he could pass his SATs.
“I went into that room and I was the dying man,” he told M Live . “I knew I was dying. My whole life was going to go. This SAT exam is to prove how much I know and I really don’t know anything. A dying man sees what? His whole life pass before him … After a while, I just gave up. I said while I’m taking the exam, ‘I don’t know anything so guessing is better than sitting there.'” The future star had heard a rumor that every third answer was C, and that apparently was enough to get him admitted on “remedial everything.”
Cosby excelled athletically. According to Fox Sports , he became a football hall of famer at Temple University, where he played fullback. He was also a member of the track team, competing in the high jump, shot put, low hurdles, javelin, and discus.
In 2014, when sexual misconduct allegations against Cosby gained traction, Temple announced that it was standing by its famous alumni, but the university changed course and stripped Cosby’s honorary degree after his guilty verdict in 2018.
Did he ask a security guard to ‘tuck him in’ at night?
While his plan to become the world’s most motivational gym teacher never came to fruition, Cosby would instead go on to pedal his stay-in-school message through his work in the entertainment industry. He set out to make it in the world of stand-up comedy and was soon noticed by TV producers, impressing execs with his show at the
Hungry I in San Francisco. Over the years, Cosby carved out a reputation as one of TV’s good guys, but those who worked in and around the stand-up scene remembered a man very different than the one preaching family values in his sitcoms.
Comic and former UFC commentator Joe Rogan has never been shy about speaking his mind when it comes to his peers in the stand-up game (in 2005 he got himself
banned from The Comedy Store in Los Angeles after getting onstage during Carlos Mencia’s set to accuse him of stealing jokes,) and he has one story about Cosby that will send a shudder down your spine.
In 2015, Rogan said he did a show at a New York casino where Cosby had once stayed, and the staff told him all about Cosby’s alleged bedtime request. “He asked the security guard to tuck him in at night, and everybody was really weirded out by it,” Rogan said (via the Las Vegas Review-Journal). “Obviously this is second hand, or third hand, but it’s pretty obvious there is something seriously wrong with that dude.”
He allegedly ratted out his own daughter
Bill Cosby is known to have been unfaithful to his wife of more than 50 years, Camille Cosby , on several occasions — his legal team was forced to admit as much in front of the court, claiming that Bill’s alleged sexual offences against Andrea Constand and the rest of his accusers were consensual affairs. What isn’t common knowledge is the lengths that the superstar allegedly went to in order to keep his reputation in tact — including perhaps throwing his own daughter under the bus.
Writing for Page Six , journalist Richard Johnson revealed that a colleague who once worked for the National Enquirer had some solid dirt on the comic back in 1989. Apparently, Bill and late Rat Pack star Sammy Davis Jr. had been caught “swinging with some showgirls in Las Vegas” that summer and the supermarket tabloid was preparing to run the story. Panicked at the thought of his name getting dragged through the mud, Bill allegedly offered up an exclusive about his daughter Erinn’s drinking and drug problems in exchange for killing the story about his behavior. “My editor told me that daddy Cosby was the source,” the reporter (who asked to remain unnamed) told Johnson. “He ratted out his flesh and blood.”
His son was gunned down
One of Cosby’s five children was murdered in January 1997. According to a report in The New York Times, son Ennis was visiting friends in Los Angeles when his car (a dark green Mercedes-Benz sports convertible) got a flat in the wrong part of town. The 27-year-old Columbia University graduate was found “sprawled on the ground in a pool of blood on the passenger side of the car, the door there ajar.” He had been shot in the head.
The Los Angeles Police Department opened a murder investigation, but it was reportedly going nowhere until a tip received by the
National Enquirer (one of several tabloids that offered cash rewards for information) eventually led authorities to the North Hollywood home of Mikhail Markhasev (pictured left). A jury found that the 18-year-old Russian immigrant happened across Ennis changing his car tire and killed him during a robbery gone wrong. Markhasev protested his innocence for many years, but eventually came clean in a letter to Radar .
“Ennis’ only fault was in being in the path of a wicked idiot like myself,” Markhasev wrote from his California prison cell. “The senseless tragedy of his untimely death and the sacred sorrow experienced by his family is something that I hope you will never have to experience, and yet it happens daily in the world.”
Sadly, this wouldn’t be the last time the Cosby family would experience the sorrow of losing a child. Their daughter, Ensa, died at age 44 after a battle with renal disease.
Does he have an illegitimate daughter?
After Ennis was killed in cold blood, the conspiracy theorists got to work. That same year, rumors that Cosby had fathered an illegitimate child began to circulate, and some claimed The Cosby Show star had his own son killed to stop him from blabbing about his half-sister to the press. The man who committed the murder denied these claims, but Cosby himself would have some denying to do when a woman named Autumn Jackson came forward claiming to be the entertainer’s lovechild.
According to CNN, Cosby admitted to an affair with Jackson’s mother, Shawn Thompson Upshaw, but he said he was 100 percent certain he was not the girl’s father. He asked Jackson to take a DNA test, but she refused. Cosby claimed Jackson was trying to blackmail him for millions of dollars to keep the fake story out of the press, and he had the tapes to prove it.
“OK, what I can do is, I can cut it down the middle … take off another five, and bring that to 25 [million],” Jackson could reportedly be heard telling Cosby’s attorney in a secret recording. It was enough to convince a jury of her guilt and (still maintaining that Cosby was her biological father) she was sentenced to 26 months in prison for extortion.
That time he shamed the black working class
Cosby may have spent a good chunk of his life advocating for change in black communities, but his approach to the problems facing African Americans hasn’t always gone down well with the people he was supposedly trying to help.
In 2004, he took to the stage at an NAACP event and delivered what would become known as the “pound cake speech,” shocking many of his fans by suggesting that black communities weren’t working hard enough and needed to stop blaming white people for their problems.
“Looking at the incarcerated, these are not political criminals,” Cosby said (via The Root ). “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?”
His words cost him a lot of support among African Americans at a time when people were fighting for greater police accountability.
He was first accused of sexual misconduct in 2005
The woman Bill Cosby was eventually found guilty of assaulting in his 2018 retrial is former Temple University basketball employee Andrea Constand, who first came forward about the incident back in 2005. She told authorities she met Cosby at a game in 2002. Then, in 2004, he reportedly invited her to his home to discuss her career. He allegedly offered her what he said were some herbal pills to “take the edge off” after a long day. Constand claimed that after taking the pills she lost control of her body but remained conscious enough to remember Cosby’s assault.
According to the Independent, Constand went to her mother first. After confronting Cosby, the pair contacted police but were left crestfallen when then Pennsylvania District Attorney Bruce Castor announced he would not bring any criminal charges against the entertainer because of “insufficient evidence,” despite the fact that Cosby had reportedly admitted to buying the sedative Quaalude to give to women he wanted to have sex with in the 1970s.
“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?” Cosby was asked, according to Time . Even though his answer was, “Yes,” his attorney argued that everybody was taking the “love drug” at the time and that Cosby never gave it without consent. Cosby wound up paying Constand $3.38 million to confidentially settle the matter after she filed a civil suit against him.
A viral video led to his downfall
While other women came forward alleging sexual abuse at the hands of Cosby in the years after Constand accused him, none were taken seriously until 2014, when a video of a comedian calling the veteran a rapist during a show went viral.
“Bill Cosby has the f***ing smuggest old black man public persona that I hate,” Hannibal Buress said during a gig at The Trocadero, a venue in Cosby’s home city of Philadelphia, no less. “He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the ’80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”
Buress went on to joke that he just wanted to ruin reruns of The Cosby Show for the audience, but he also made sure the audience knew that he was 100 percent serious about his allegations. “I’ve done this bit on stage and people … think I’m making it up,” Buress said. “…That s**t is upsetting. If you didn’t know about it, trust me. When you leave here, Google ‘Bill Cosby rape.’ That shit has more results than ‘Hannibal Buress.'”
People did just that, and before long, the media had latched on to the renewed interest in Cosby’s shady past. The actor soon found himself under investigation as a result.
He’s been accused by at least 60 women
In December 2015, new district attorney Kevin Steele set the tone of his tenure when he announced that Cosby has been arrested and charged with felony indecent assault.
According to the Independent, Cosby actually attempted to sue Constand for speaking to the police after he’d paid her off, but later dropped the case.
The first trial didn’t go as planned as far as Cosby’s opponents were concerned — jurors remained deadlocked after five days of deliberation and a mistrial was declared. The entertainer wasn’t as lucky the second time around. Cosby was found guilty at his 2018 retrial and faces up to 30 years behind bars — and that’s before all of the potential civil suits from the 60 women who have come forward with harrowing accounts of abuse even begin.
One of Cosby’s many alleged victims was Barbara Bowman, who was a 17-year-old model and an aspiring actress when her agent introduced her to Cosby in 1985. “He convinced me that he was going to take care of me like a father, that he loved me like a daughter,” she said (via USA Today). “To wake up half-dressed and raped by the man that said he was going to love me like a father? That’s pretty sick.”
Did he try to ‘Cosby’ Chelsea Handler?
Stand-up comic Chelsea Handler claims to have had a close call with Cosby around the same time that he sexually assaulted Andrea Constand. When fellow comedian Nick Offerman interviewed her for Esquire magazine in 2015, Handler said that she once received an ominous invite from the disgraced comedian.
“He tried to Cosby me,” Handler said. “I was in Atlantic City playing, doing stand-up, and he was doing stand-up in Atlantic City in the same hotel, and at like three o’clock in the afternoon, someone from the hotel came down and said, ‘Oh, you know, Mr. Cosby would really like to meet you up in his hotel suite.'”
Alarm bells started ringing right away for Handler, but she still wanted to meet the man, so she went to his room with three of her male colleagues as company. “I said, ‘That’s really weird. I don’t want to go alone.’ I go, ‘I don’t know him.’ So the three guys I was with — thank God these guys were with me, one was filming and one was like a producer; we were filming something — I brought them up with me to his room and thank God I did, because now I know what would’ve happened if I went up there alone.”
Handler has been an avid supporter of the
MeToo movement since it took root, and she was quick to comment after Cosby’s guilty verdict. “I wonder how long it’s going to take Trump to announce he’s going to pardon Bill Cosby,” she tweeted.
The verdict brings some closure to sufferers
How and where Cosby will serve his time is yet to be decided at the time of this writing, but those that fought for his conviction are taking comfort in the fact that he may spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Former bartender Janice Baker-Kinney was one of five accusers allowed to testify at the retrial; she alleged that the comedian drugged and raped her in 1982 when she was at a house party in Reno, Nev. “I am overwhelmed with joy, relief and gratitude,” she said in a
statement after the guilty verdict. “This may be the end for Mr. Cosby, but this victory is just the beginning for many of us, to fight for justice, to do the right thing and support every person who has ever been shamed and humiliated and blamed.”
Celebrities have also joined the post-verdict chorus of praise. Actress Rose McGowan, who became one of the early catalysts for the MeToo movement after she openly accused movie executive Harvey Weinstein of rape, expressed gratitude about Cosby’s status as a convicted man. “I’m sorry if you loved a lie,” she tweeted. “His victims can now exhale. Thank you judge and jury. Thank you society for waking up.”
Fellow actress Amber Tamblyn chimed in with a similarly themed tweet , telling Cosby that his date with justice was long overdue: “Time’s up, Bill. Time’s BEEN up for you, for years. And now justice. Justice for women I know who you’ve hurt and those I’ve never met. Good riddance.”