Bill Cosby offered to pay college tuition for two women who alleged he drugged and sexually assaulted them, according to court filings unsealed this week.
The scholarships were not intended to buy his accusers' silence, Cosby maintained in a 2005 deposition. But both offers were made immediately after the women confronted him about the alleged sexual encounters.
His admission regarding the tuition payments could further complicate one of the 77-year-old actor-comedian's most visible philanthropic legacies - the millions of dollars he and his wife, Camille, have given to universities and individuals seeking college degrees.
"I know Andrea has talked about graduate school. Why don't we have a conversation and talk about what she wants to be. Whatever graduate school, we will pick up the tab," Bill Cosby said in recalling his thought process during a 2005 interview with Montgomery County authorities. They were investigating accusations from Andrea Constand, a former Temple University basketball team employee, who had accused Cosby of molesting her.
Lawyers for Cosby's accusers say these scholarships - described repeatedly as "educational trusts" in the cache of documents released Monday from Constand's 2005 civil suit against the entertainer - were just one of the methods he used to prevent potentially damaging stories about him from reaching the public.
Other tactics, they say, included offers of exclusive interviews to newspapers that agreed not to publish embarrassing stories, as well as meetings Cosby arranged for his accusers with modeling agencies.
Cosby's lawyer, Patrick O'Connor, said Tuesday that he could not respond to questions because of a court confidentiality order. Cosby has repeatedly denied allegations of sexual assault and has never been charged with the crime.
Cosby "is a wealthy and generous person," O'Connor said in a 2005 court filing. "He and his wife have established educational trusts and otherwise funded education for a variety of people, for a variety of reasons."
Constand maintained in her lawsuit that the reason Cosby offered her a scholarship was clear. She said he gave her powerful sedatives and then groped her after she went to his Cheltenham mansion seeking career advice. Cosby said he gave her only Benadryl.
In January 2005, Constand's mother called to confront Cosby about her daughter's allegations. He asked what he could do to help. Constand's mother said his "apology was enough," according to the filings.
As soon as they hung up, Cosby testified, he had the idea of offering Constand a scholarship. She "did not accept, nor did she reject it," at the time, he said.
Cosby settled the suit in 2006 on undisclosed terms.
Later, Cosby conceded that he paid for another accuser's college tuition as well. But when Constand's lawyer asked whether he had given scholarships to any other women with whom he had had sex, Cosby's lawyers objected and he did not answer the question.
Whatever Cosby's intent, he made clear in his testimony that the funds came with restrictions. Constand would have to maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher to keep receiving the assistance.
"Our family, when we write a check, that's what we do," he said.
Cosby's commitment to education issues is well-documented. Long before he achieved stardom, the high school dropout earned his GED and attended Temple on the GI Bill. Eventually, he obtained a doctorate in education.
Until more recent assault allegations surfaced involving more than two dozen women over four decades, he was a regular speaker on the commencement circuit. At times, he courted controversy with his public tongue-lashings on what he described as the hypocrisy of poor public school systems in low-income neighborhoods.
He served on Temple's board of trustees from 1982 to 2014, when he resigned in the face of the controversy. O'Connor, Cosby's lawyer in the civil suit, is chairman of Temple's board.
During that time, Cosby and his wife were bankrolling scholarships at his alma mater, including a $3,000 award that bears his name for juniors seeking degrees in the natural sciences.
The couple also struck dozens of private arrangements to pay tuition for students through the Ennis William Cosby Foundation, named after their son, who was fatally shot during a 1997 robbery in California. It ceased operation in 2008.
A Temple spokesman said Tuesday that the Cosbys play no role in selecting recipients of the scholarships awarded through the university.
The couple have rarely spoken publicly about their education philanthropy.
"The identities of the recipients and the reasons for the trusts are highly personal both to the Cosbys and the recipients," O'Connor said in filings in the Constand case.
In a 2003 interview with The Inquirer, Cosby described those whose college careers he helped to support as part of his "larger family."
More than a decade later, Delana Wardlaw, who received the Camille and Bill Cosby Scholarship in Science in 1995, said the recent controversy had not diminished her appreciation for the role he played in her education.
She and her twin sister, Elana Miles-McDonald, went on to become doctors after receiving tuition money from endowments funded by the Cosbys.
"Without his assistance, I may not be where I am today," said Wardlaw, a family physician in Nicetown. As for the mounting allegations against her benefactor, she said, "It's an unfortunate turn of events, [but] the contributions that he made to education in this city, that can't be taken away."