Revoke Bill Cosby’s Medal of Freedom award, rape survivor group petitions
A day after Disney removed a Bill Cosby statue from its Florida theme park, a sexual assault survivor organization is petitioning the White House to revoke a Presidential Medal of Freedom the comedian received in 2002.
The online petition, which has garnered more than 2,600 signatures in less than 24 hours, is just the latest example of public outcry after court documents revealed this week that Cosby admitted in a deposition to obtaining quaaludes with the intent of giving them to women with whom he wanted to have sex.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest award bestowed on civilians for their contributions to society,” says the petition organized by Chicago-based PAVE, or Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment. “Bill Cosby does not deserve to be on the list of distinguished recipients.”
PAVE’s founder and executive director, Angela Rose, was abducted and sexually assaulted when she was 17, and she has spent her life working on behalf of survivors and trying to educate the public about sexual violence.
Taking the medal from Cosby is an “opportunity to send a very important message, especially to young people, to tell them that Cosby’s actions should not be celebrated,” she told CNN on Thursday. “We are hopeful that the President and the administration, which has taken bold and powerful stances on the issue of sexual assault on campuses and the military, will also take a powerful stance on this.”
The Los Angeles Police Department has an open investigation concerning Cosby, Officer Matthew Ludwig told CNN on Tuesday. Because it concerns sexual abuse allegations, the LAPD says, it cannot provide details.
Cosby has not been charged with a crime and has numerous times denied the sexual assault allegations.
It would be unprecedented to revoke a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Asked about whether the new revelations of Cosby’s admission would open the door to that, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that he would ask President Obama.
“I haven’t, at this point, heard any discussion of taking that step,” Earnest said. “But I can tell you that, as a general matter, this administration has been very focused on countering sexual assault, and doing so in a variety of settings.”
The White House has pushed for reform on college campuses and in the military to combat sexual assault, Earnest noted.
A move for more answers
Cosby admitted that he procured prescription quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with, according to documents dating back to 2005 that stem from a lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand, who was then the director of operations for the Temple University women’s basketball team.
In the suit, Constand alleged, among other things, that Cosby sexually assaulted her. In 2006, she entered into a confidential agreement to settle.
Constand is among dozens of women who have publicly accused the comedian of rape and sexual assault.
The Associated Press went to court to compel the release of the documents, and they were made public Monday.
CNN has attempted to reach a lawyer and publicist for Cosby to respond to the revelations in the documents, without success. His longtime publicist, David Brokaw, said Monday, “We have no plans to issue a statement.”
In a sworn deposition in 2005, Cosby answered questions from Constand’s attorney, Dolores Troiani.
“When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” Troiani asked.
“Yes,” Cosby replied.
“Did you ever give any of those young women the quaaludes without their knowledge?” Troiani asked.
Cosby’s attorney objected and told him not to answer the question.
This week, Troiani filed a motion on behalf of her client, saying that on the grounds that Cosby has broken a confidentiality agreement, the full deposition in the 2005 case should be unsealed.
The full deposition was not part of the documents that the AP compelled be opened — only partial documents.
If Constand’s motion request is granted, the entire testimony will be made public.
The motion cites numerous alleged instances of Cosby and his counsel talking to the media about his accusers in recent months. Constand alleges those statements are violations of a confidential settlement agreement entered into by all parties in October 2006.
The motion states in part:
“In that defendant has chosen to ignore the confidentiality provisions of the settlement agreement, plaintiffs request that this honorable court release the entire deposition transcripts and further release plaintiff and her counsel from those same provisions which defendant has chosen to ignore.”
Cosby’s defense is expected to file a response.
Reaction in Hollywood, elsewhere
While court matters play out, there continues to be fierce backlash against Cosby.
In addition to Disney taking down his statue, the Navy announced it is revoking Cosby’s title of honorary chief petty officer, which he received in 2011.
The station Bounce announced it would stop airing Cosby’s sitcoms. BET pulled “The Cosby Show” off the air. Netflix last November scrapped plans to air a new show with Cosby.
Cosby’s talent agency has dropped him as a client, Creative Artists Agency spokeswoman Missy Davy told CNN.
AIG Property Casualty Insurance Co. also says it will not defend Cosby in a defamation suit brought by model Janice Dickinson, one of the women accusing him of sexual assault. Cosby has accused her of fabricating her story.
The company said it insures Cosby, but all policies exclude “sexual misconduct, molestation or harassment … sexual, physical or mental abuse.”
There’s a push in Los Angeles to remove Cosby’s star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday, but that fight seems to be an uphill one. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce says it will not remove the star.
“The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a registered historic landmark. 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,” chamber President and CEO Leron Gubler told CNN.
Attention has turned to Cosby’s PR team after the revelations this week that the comedian got drugs to women he wanted to sleep with. His representatives, who had been vocal up to that point, have been silent, The New York Times noted Wednesday.
While several celebrities have blasted Cosby, some supported him before this week. A few continue to support him. The most vocal has been Whoopi Goldberg, who defended him before and after the revelation about the Quaaludes became public.
The “View” co-host said she’s been threatened for supporting him.
“People have been coming after me and saying they’re going to snatch my family,” Goldberg said on the daytime show Wednesday. “It’s like being Frankenstein, people coming after you with the fire and they’re going to burn you.”
By Ashley Fantz
CNN’s Jean Casarez, Lisa Respers France, Stella Chan, Kristina Sgueglia and Rebekah Metzler contributed to this report.