- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

President Obama refused to weigh in on the assault and rape charges circling around comedian and Hollywood icon Bill Cosby, saying that he’d rather keep his discussions about sexual attacks non-specific.

“[It’s] important to not focus on one case,” Mr. Obama said during an interview with Univision, adding that he had general concerns “about how women and sometimes men are subjected to sexual assaults.”

He then turned his attention to the military and other institutions without mentioning the Cosby case.

“That’s been true in our military,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s been true in our colleges and university — we’re focused at the White House on making sure we raise awareness.”

He spoke in generalities about respect for women and even vaguer terms about the process of social and cultural change for almost 350 words, none of which was “Cosby.”

Mr. Cosby has been mostly silent himself about the numerous women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault through the years. Many have alleged the actor slipped something into their drinks and then awoke to find themselves being sexually abused by Mr. Cosby.

The few remarks Mr. Cosby or his attorney have made about the accusations are tied to denials — they say the allegations are false.

Mr. Obama’s sidestep of comment about Mr. Cosby comes amid a White House campaign called “It’s On Us” that asks young men to step up and help combat sexual violence.

His reluctance to weigh in on Mr. Cosby is a stark contrast to some of his previous public stances on issues of national importance. Mr. Obama, back in 2009, jumped to the defense of his Harvard University professor and acquaintance Henry Louis Gates Jr., who was arrested by a local police officer outside his apartment after a report of a possible breaking and entering.

Then, Mr. Obama admitted that he didn’t know all the facts but the “Cambridge police acted stupidly” in making the arrest, various media reported. Law enforcement widely criticized the president’s statement as fueling tensions between the community and police for what was largely a local matter.

More recently, Mr. Obama has angered many in conservative camps with his public statements about Ferguson and the relations between white officers and black suspects, suggesting in not-so-subtle terms that racism is an underlying factor in the minority arrest rates.

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