- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Barack Obama said Wednesday that he can’t revoke Bill Cosby’s Medal of Freedom, but the president did have harsh words for the legendary actor and comedian, stopping just short of accusing him of rape.

In a White House press conference, the president said there is no “mechanism” to strip Mr. Cosby of his medal, which President George W. Bush awarded in 2002.

Mr. Cosby, 77, now stands accused of rape by more than two dozen women. In court deposition papers obtained by The Associated Press, Mr. Cosby reportedly admitted to buying drugs with the intention of giving them to women, and then having sex with those women.

“There’s no precedent for revoking a medal. We don’t have that mechanism,” the president said after being asked about stripping the medal, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor.

“And as you know, I tend to make it a policy not to comment on the specifics of cases where there might still be, if not criminal, than civil issues involved,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ll say this: If you give a woman, or a man for that matter, a drug without his or her knowledge, and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape. And I think in this country, any civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape.”

Mr. Cosby has not been charged with a crime. He has denied some of the accusations against him but has remained silent on others despite a growing backlash.

A bust of Mr. Cosby has been removed from Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park near Orlando, Florida. TV networks have said they will stop airing reruns of the classic 1980s sitcom “The Cosby Show.”

Activists say those steps aren’t enough and are urging Mr. Obama to set a precedent by revoking Mr. Cosby’s medal.

“By President Obama’s own definition, Bill Cosby is a rapist. This is a catalyst moment in our nation’s history. We need to send a message to the youth of America that drug-facilitated sexual assault cannot be celebrated,” said Angela Rose, executive director of Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, which advocates on behalf of victims of sexual abuse. “The Medal of Freedom embodies our nation’s values. Allowing Cosby to maintain this coveted symbol suggests that we, as a society, support coercive sexual behavior. … The president said there is no precedent for revoking the Medal of Freedom, but there’s also no precedent for the nation giving its highest honor to a man accused by dozens of women and admitting to obtaining drugs to people he wanted to have sex with.”

 

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