On 30 December 2015, Bill Cosby was formally charged with counts related to an alleged sexual assault in Pennsylvania. Soon after, a photograph began circulating on social media networks, along with speculation that the image depicted a worker removing Bill Cosby’s Hollywood “Walk of Fame” star:
I can’t believe they are dragging Bill Cosby through all of this right now and they removed his Hollywood star
— DaddyFah™ (@_MostHated24) January 1, 2016
Charges were brought against Cosby more than a year after allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct against the comedian began attracting wide attention. In October 2014, stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress performed a bit during which he referenced multiple accusations against Cosby over the years. While the commentary wasn’t new (Buress had made the joke several times before), an audience member uploaded footage of it to YouTube, which catalyzed new interest in the claims.
More than a year after Buress’ stand-up performance went viral, Cosby was arraigned at a district court in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. The day after his court appearance, the “Walk of Fame” photograph began circulating on social media alongside claims that Cosby’s star was either in the process of being removed, or was slated for removal.
The claims were false on several levels. Not only was Cosby’s star intact and not slated for removal, but the photograph actually depicted repair work undertaken after the star was vandalized in early December 2014, as Variety reported:
Bill Cosby’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was vandalized with the word “rapist,” written several times in purple marker.
The star was defaced amid multiple allegations of sexual assault against Cosby.
In response to the vandalism, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce released the following statement: “The Hollywood Walk of Fame is an institution celebrating the positive contributions of the inductees. When people are unhappy with one of our honorees, we would hope that they would project their anger in more positive ways then to vandalize a California State landmark. The star is being cleaned up at this time.”
A July 2014 Hollywood Reporter article included a statement from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce about the lack of any precedent for the removal of controversial stars from the Walk, stating: “Once a star has been added to the Walk, it is considered a part of the historic fabric of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Because of this, we have never removed a star from the Walk.”
In April 2018, following his conviction on three counts of sexual assault, Cosby’s star was once again vandalized by someone who “attached the message ‘Guilty on all 3 counts'” to it.