As we all know, the once adored creator and star of The Cosby Show has become one of America’s most despised men. To date, more than 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of rape, sexual assault or attempted assault. His disturbing behavior spanned decades. Now, he has been charged and, in the coming year, will stand trial in a Pennsylvania court. His accusers vary in just about every aspect from age to appearance to socioeconomic background. We could spend days talking about these women, dissecting their lives and interaction with Cosby but, let’s look at two of his accusers as they serve to crystallize so much of what this case is about: the earliest victim, Kristina Ruehli, and the former basketball player, Andrea Constand, whose refusal to back down sparked Ruehli to speak up.
In December 1965, Kristina Ruehli, was a 22-year-old talent agency secretary whom Cosby invited to a cocktail party at his home. When she arrived fashionably late to the party, Ruehli was surprised she was the only one there. She quickly realized there was, in fact, no party but agreed to stay for a cocktail– he was Bill Cosby after all. Ruehli only remembers her first few of sips. When she regained consciousness hours later, she found herself with Cosby in his bedroom; he was attempting to force her to perform oral sex. Ashamed and embarrassed, Ruehli, the beautiful, blue eyed blonde did not report the incident. But in 2005, buoyed by the stories of other victims, Ruehli gained the courage to speak out. Specifically, it was during Andrea Constand’s civil lawsuit that Ruehli exposed what Cosby had done to her. Ruehli, now 73 years old, has since dropped her charges against Cosby. But she did not do so for want of proof or because she felt some latent shame for herself or sympathy for Cosby but rather because she believes her suit against him did what she wanted it to do: shed light on the issue of sexual assault in this country. Can’t fault a woman for that.
Cosby approached Andrea Constand in 2002 while both were affiliated with Temple University in Philadelphia. He offered to act as her mentor. Who would say no to that? One time while Constand was at Cosby’s house she mentioned that she was feeling anxious. He gave her an herbal pill that he said would help ease that. Ok, maybe that wasn’t the smartest choice by Constand but remember, she was a fan and Cosby was widely known as a fatherly figure, very upstanding. The pill did a lot more than reduce Constand’s anxiety. It made her immobile. She was unable to escape while Cosby undressed her and sexually assaulted her. For years, she kept the assault a secret, but after struggling through nightmares and depression, she finally let it out. She filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby and that matter was resolved via a confidential settlement in 2006. One of the clauses in the settlement? Constand was not to talk about the matter with anyone. But, she cooperated with law enforcement during a subsequent criminal investigation. An investigation that led to Cosby’s arrest. Cosby and his legal team did not make it easy on Constand. He sued her for violating the agreement and demanded that she return the money that he paid her. In July 2016, U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno ruled that Constand’s cooperation in the investigation did not violate the nondisclosure provision in the 2006 settlement. Cosby will now stand trial. With regard to proof Cosby’s trial is going to rival that of O.J’s.