Obama on Cosby: Drugging anyone for sex ‘is rape’

16 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Asked about Cosby, Obama says civilized nations cannot tolerate rape.

Just before soberly yet searingly describing Bill Cosby’s crimes as rape, President Obama demurred that he could not strip the disgraced comedian of the Presidential Medal of Freedom he was awarded in 2002. WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday said bluntly that the actions described in accusations that the comedian Bill Cosby drugged women for sex would constitute nothing less than rape, and he said the country should have “no tolerance” for such actions.FILE – In this Nov. 6, 2014 file photo, entertainer Bill Cosby gestures during an interview at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington.

Obama declined to comment on the specific allegations against Cosby, who has been accused by a series of women of raping them after giving them a drug. “I’ll say this: if you give a woman, or a man for that matter, without his or her knowledge a drug and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape,” Obama told a White House news conference. Cosby, the president sought to carefully avoid a direct comment on civil legal actions that have been lodged against the longtime comedian and television star by several women in recent years.

Several women who claim they were sexually assaulted by Cosby in the 1980s joined an effort this week to unseal a deposition he gave in 2005 in which he reportedly admitted giving a powerful sedative to women with whom he wanted to have sex. The unsealing of that deposition came after more than 40 women alleged in the last nine months that Cosby sexually assaulted them in incidents dating back decades. Obama said in answer to an off-topic question during a long news conference that was otherwise focused on the nuclear deal with Iran announced Tuesday. “We don’t have that mechanism.” But after a noticeable pause, Mr. Obama did comment, if indirectly, suggesting that the facts involving one of the world’s best-known entertainers should not be taken lightly. “I’ll say this,” Mr. Obama’s remarks came days after the release of portions of a years-old court record in which the former “Cosby Show” star admitted to having obtained prescriptions for quaaludes, a sedative, in the 1970s.

The leader of a sexual assault awareness group that has urged the White House to revoke Cosby’s medal expressed disappointment in the president’s statement. Angela Rose, executive director of Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment, said there are plenty of ways for the president to take a more emphatic stand. “Allowing Cosby to maintain this coveted symbol suggests that we as a society condone coercive sexual behavior,” Rose said. “This is an unprecedented moment, and we need to show zero tolerance for sexual assault.” The organization has suggested three ways Obama could deal with Cosby’s medal: issue an executive order rescinding it, issue a personal statement that it should be rescinded or ask Cosby to return it. More than 10,000 people have signed the group’s petition calling for the medal to be rescinded. “Revoking the medal would send a powerful message to America’s youth on the critical importance of consent,” Rose said, adding that her group has requested a meeting with the president and first lady Michelle Obama. In one of his first news conferences as president, in 2009, he said he thought a white Cambridge police officer was “stupid” to have arrested a black Harvard professor.

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