- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 16, 2015

Famed sexual harassment and employment lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents a number of women accusing Bill Cosby of rape, wants President Obama to revoke the actor’s Presidential Medal of Freedom and believes that the White House or Congress should create a mechanism to do just that.

Mr. Obama addressed the issue Wednesday of whether or not Mr. Cosby’s medal could be revoked, saying, “There’s no precedent for revoking a medal. We don’t have that mechanism.”

But Ms. Allred told The Washington Times on Thursday that Mr. Cosby’s circumstances — he is accused by more than 40 women of sexual assault — makes it clear that such a mechanism for revocation of the award is necessary, and that either the executive or legislative branch should get to work on the issue.

“I am very glad that the president decided to address this important issue, rather than avoiding it. His statement about drugging and sexual assault was clear and powerful,” Ms. Allred told The Times. “It is important, however, that a mechanism be created to revoke the Medal of Freedom if the recipient brings dishonor upon our nation’s highest honor. Bill Cosby has tarnished not only his own legacy, but also the medal itself.

“Either the executive branch or the Congress should now formulate guidelines to address the revocation of this high honor when the individual who receives it, disgraces both himself and the Medal of Freedom,” she said.

Ms. Allred isn’t the only one who believes Mr. Cosby should part ways with the medal.

Florida based criminal defense attorney Mark O’Mara, who successfully represented George Zimmerman in the 2013 Trayvon Martin murder trial, said Mr. Cosby should voluntarily return the medal.

“[It] seems there is no process for revoking it, but it’s apparent, from his admission 10 years ago, that most of the women accusing him are speaking the truth. While it can’t be revoked, he can and should return it voluntarily,” Mr. O’Mara said. “His actions demean the basis for and honor of the medal. If he faked an injury in wartime and received a Purple Heart it should be returned. [The] same principle applies here — a small step towards regaining some respect of a nation that revered him.”

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the president and is the highest civilian award, comparable to the Congressional Gold Medal. It recognizes citizens that have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

It has been given to activists and scientists such as Mother Teresa and Stephen Hawking, foreign leaders such as Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair and entertainers such as Audrey Hepburn and Frank Sinatra.

George W. Bush presented Mr. Cosby with his medal in 2002 for his contribution to television. Mr. Bush has awarded the medal to 81 people during his two terms in office, and Mr. Obama has presented the medal to 80 recipients to date.

• Jeffrey Scott Shapiro can be reached at jshapiro@washingtontimes.com.

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