Obama: No Mech­a­nism To Re­voke Cosby’s Medal Of Free­dom

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama yesterday re­jected the idea of re­vok­ing Bill Cosby’s Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom be­cause of sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions. “There’s no prece­dent for re­vok­ing a medal,” Obama said. “We don’t have that mech­a­nism.”

The pres­i­dent, who was asked about Cosby’s medal at a news con­fer­ence, de­clined to ad­dress spe­cific al­le­ga­tions against the en­ter­tainer be­cause there are pend­ing le­gal mat­ters. But Obama left no ques­tion about his think­ing on the larger is­sue of drugs, con­sent and rape.

“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,” he said. “And I think this coun­try, any civilised coun­try, should have no tol­er­ance for rape.”

Court doc­u­ments ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press have re­vealed that Cosby ac­knowl­edged un­der oath in 2005 that he ob­tained Quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex. The doc­u­ments weren’t clear on whether the women con­sented to be­ing drugged.

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 be­hav­iour,” Rose said. “This is an un­prece­dented mo­ment, and we need to show zero tol­er­ance for sex­ual as­sault.”

The or­gan­i­sa­tion 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.

More than two dozen women have ac­cused Cosby of sex­ual mis­con­duct in the past four decades, and many of them al­lege that he drugged them be­fore sex.

The 77-year-old co­me­dian, who has never been charged with a crime, has de­nied some ac­cu­sa­tions while de­clin­ing to com­ment or re­spond to oth­ers.

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush awarded him the Medal of Free­dom in 2002.

Bill Cosby con­tin­ues to be the tar­get for al­legedly drug­ging and sex­u­ally abus­ing sev­eral women.

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