“Why did you wait so long to report?”
That’s the question that Bill Cosby’s lawyer Bruce McMonagle reportedly said he’d have asked Andrea Constand if she’d been at the Tuesday hearing where a judge decided her accusations of sexual assault by the comedian will, finally, be tried in criminal court.
To date, more than 50 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct. Constand was the first. In January of 2005 she told police that a year earlier, Cosby had touched and penetrated her after drugging her. A prosecutor decided against proceeding with the case, and Constand followed up with a civil suit that resulted in a 2006 settlement. After that came an accelerating drip of women making allegations about incidents spanning a wide swath of Cosby’s career, from Kristina Ruehli (1965) to Chloe Goins (2008).
Throughout, these women have faced suspicion and ridicule—from the Cosby team, from allied celebrities, and from members of the public making their thoughts known on social media—for not coming forward sooner. “How big is his penis that it gives you amnesia for 40 years?” the comedian Damon Wayans said in a riff bashing the accusers. That Constand went to police about a year after the alleged event and is still facing this same question shows how slippery its premise can be: Most any time period can apparently be declared suspicious.