Allegations that Bill Cosby is a rapist are nothing new. Women have been accusing the comedy icon of sexually abusing them for years, and the story reached new heights of public consciousness in 2014 after video of comedian Hannibal Buress's jokes about Cosby went viral.
The destruction of Cosby's reputation continued this year, hitting a tipping point when New York magazine boldly depicted 35 of Cosby's accusers on its cover and shared the women's painful experiences with a man they thought they could trust. In all, nearly 60 women have come forward to tell their stories of abuse.
HuffPost Live covered the story closely in 2015, both in interviews with actors who worked with Cosby and a lawyer representing him, as well as in panel discussions about what the accusations say about our country's cultures of celebrity and violence against women. Below, revisit the story as it was told on HuffPost Live, and head here for help on what to do if you have been the victim of sexual abuse.
After Cosby dodged questions about the allegations against him in an interview with "Good Morning America," HuffPost Live hosted a panel discussion on May 18 about his continued denials, the legal implications of the accusations and whether the idea of "black protectionism" played a role in the country's response.
In July, we heard startling information from Cosby himself -- at least, from the Cosby of 2005. When documents from a 10-year-old deposition were released, it was revealed that Cosby had admitted he procured quaaludes with the intent to administer them to women with whom he wanted to have sex. On July 7, HuffPost Live spoke with civil rights attorney Gloria Allred and Lisa Bloom, a lawyer representing Cosby accuser Janice Dickinson, about the comedian's grim admission and what his words meant for the women seeking justice against him.
Later that month, HuffPost Live got answers from Monique Pressley, Cosby's attorney. Pressley spoke with host Marc Lamont Hill for nearly an hour on July 31, explaining how she and her client responded to the mounting allegations against him. She rejected the suggestion that firing back against the accusers constitutes "victim-blaming," but she added that the lack of physical evidence against Cosby is due to his alleged victims' choice not to seek medical or legal help immediately after their encounters with him. "Women have responsibility. We have responsibility for our bodies, we have responsibility for our decisions, we have responsibility for the way we conduct ourselves," Pressley said. HuffPost Women described the way Pressley spoke about assault as "peak rape culture."
Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played Rudy Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," is one of the few people to have publicly spoken with Cosby since the accusations against him exploded. Pulliam interviewed Cosby for the premiere episode of her podcast "Kandidly Keshia" in June, but the abuse allegations were completely ignored. When Pulliam dropped by HuffPost Live on Oct. 13, she talked with host Nancy Redd about why she left the rape claims out of the conversation and how she feels about the legacy of "The Cosby Show" in light of its creator's diminished reputation.
Ebony magazine made a splash with its November cover, which featured the powerful image of a "Cosby Show" family portrait behind shattered glass. Malcolm-Jamal Warner, aka Theo Huxtable, reacted to the photo during an Oct. 20 interview on HuffPost Live. Though he had previously said the accusations against Cosby tarnished the legacy of "The Cosby Show," Warner explained to host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani that he was nonetheless disappointed by the cover. "It's contributing to the stereotypical image that society has of the broken black family and the shattered black family," he said.
One day after Warner's interview, HuffPost Live welcomed Ebony senior editor Jamilah Lemieux, who explained the rationale behind the buzzy cover and responded to Warner's analysis. "I disagree with his comment that we're contributing to this image of the broken black family," she said. "The image of the Huxtables, in the eyes of many people, has been shattered as a result of the allegations against Mr. Cosby, and that's been going on for quite some time."
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