Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial began Monday with opening arguments and the explosive claims of Kelly Johnson, who tearfully testified that she was drugged and sexually assaulted by the comedian in 1996, while she was working for his agent.
More than 50 women have accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them, but he is only standing trial in suburban Philadelphia for allegedly drugging and raping one accuser, former Temple University athlete Andrea Constand, in his home in 2004.
Cosby, who denies the charges, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
And as Cosby’s trial started on Monday, the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel aired an explosive special detailing some of the allegations against him.
"Bill Cosby: An American Scandal" began with actress Lili Bernard telling the cameras that Cosby had threatened her life years ago: "He silenced me through the threats … he said, ‘I will erase you, Bernard.’"
Bernard, who was a guest star on "The Cosby Show," hoped that her appearance in the ID special would help Constand’s case.
Attorney Jarrett Terentino detailed Constand’s case against Cosby, alleging that he became a mentor to her and they bonded over their mutual interest in Temple University athletics.
As Terentino noted on the special, Constand alleged that she told Cosby that she was under great stress. Her mentor replied that she needed to relax and "provided her with a pill of some sort."
"He assures her it’s just going to calm her down and take the edge of off things for her, so she trusts him," said legal analyst Beth Karas. "He’s Bill Cosby. And she takes the pills."
According to Terentino, Constand claimed she felt paralyzed: "She cannot move, she cannot resist, and she is alleged to have been assaulted at that point."
According to Constand’s account, the show said, she woke up at 4 a.m. with her sweater bunched up around her neck and her bra undone. She drove herself home.
Karas said Constand initially kept the alleged assault a secret but after a year, she decided to contact the police.
When authorities decided there was not enough evidence for a criminal case against Cosby, Constand filed a civil suit against him.
Cosby had to give depositions in 2005 and 2006 for Constand’s civil case, and ultimately the suit was settled with the terms sealed.
The case was thrust back into the spotlight in October 2014, when comedian Hannibal Buress slammed Cosby in his club act for telling young black men how to live their lives, remarking, "You rape women, Bill Cosby, so that kind of brings you down a couple notches."
When Buress’ joke went viral, feminist attorney Gloria Allred said, "The dam broke," with multiple women coming forward to accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct.
In July 2015, a judge lifted the seal on the details of Constand’s civil case, and the public learned from in Cosby’s deposition that, as Karas said, "He’s admitting to giving women Quaaludes!"
Bernard, who got a small guest acting role on "The Cosby Show," described how Cosby at first seemed to be mentoring her and acting as a father figure.
But one day, Bernard claimed, Cosby suddenly grabbed her breasts. When she confronted him, she alleged that Cosby replied, "I would never do that, Bernard."
Bernard concluded she had been mistaken about the incident.
But after a few weeks preparing for her role on his show, "He drugged me and he raped me," Bernard contended. Bernard went on to play a pregnant patient on "The Cosby Show."
Bernard alleged that she told him she would report him to the police, but Cosby told the young actress no one would believe her and he would tell people she was a "no-good slut and a whore."
Bernard claimed she never reported Cosby and her acting career collapsed. She has since become friends with Constand and said, "She’s like a sister to me."
The special also dealt with other horrors in Cosby’s life. The comedian’s son Ennis was murdered in a 1997 carjacking gone wrong. Cosby also saw own his love child, Autumn Jackson, prosecuted for extortion.
Autumn’s mother, Shawn Brown, told the cameras she’d had a consensual affair with the married Cosby, but also claimed that he had raped her at one point during their relationship.
Attorney Allred explained many of the accusers are happy that Constand is getting her day in court because it’s too late for them to seek justice due to various statutes of limitations.