Bill Cosby charged with sexual assault

By Kristin LaFratta

(Nancy Kaszerman/Zuma Press/MCT)
(Nancy Kaszerman/Zuma Press/MCT)

Popular comedian Bill Cosby, who received a master’s and doctorate degree in education at UMass, was criminally charged for the first time by authorities in Montgomery County, Pa. on Wednesday. Cosby was charged on three counts of sexual assault of former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, whom he allegedly drugged and violated at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. 

The Associated Press reports District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman reopened the case, which was declined by her predecessor ten years earlier. The charge comes amidst numerous allegations made by over 50 women against the now 78-year-old comedian, including defamation cases made by those whose previous allegations were dismissed because the statute of limitation had run out. Cosby firmly denies all allegations made against him.

In response to the accusations and subsequent tarnishing of his reputation, Cosby sued seven of the women for defamation earlier this month, according to the New York Times.

The AP report also states that in an unsealed document from Constand’s lawsuit, Cosby denied giving women drugs without their consent but admitted to having affairs and obtaining quaaludes to offer to women with whom he wanted to have sex.

Bill Cosby received a master’s and doctorate in education from UMass in 1976, though the University formally cut ties with the alumnus in November 2014. The decision followed the publication of a letter to UMass by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who wrote that allowing the entertainer to represent UMass would send a wrong message as the state focuses on sexual assault prevention and response.

As a philanthropist and advocate of education, Cosby was recognized by many schools in Massachusetts. In May 2014 he received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Boston University, which was rescinded earlier this month. The entertainer also received honorary degrees from Tufts University in 2000 and Berklee College of Music in 2004, though Berklee removed his name from a scholarship in 2014 and Tufts University revoked the honorary degree in October. For the first time in its history, Amherst College followed suit by rescinding an honorary degree held by Cosby.

In December 2014, he resigned from his position on the Board of Trustees at Temple University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1971.

Kristin LaFratta can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @kristinlafratta.