Shortly after Disney removed a Bill Cosby statue from its Florida theme park, a sexual assault survivor organization began petitioning the White House to revoke a Presidential Medal of Freedom the comedian received in 2002.
President Barack Obama said that there was no precedent for revoking the medal, but he did outline a definition of 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,” Obama said Wednesday.
The online petition to revoke Cosby’s medal, 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 recently that Cosby admitted in a deposition to obtaining Quaaludes for 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.
The Los Angeles Police Department has an open investigation concerning Cosby, according to Officer Matthew Ludwig. 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.
A move for more answers
Cosby admitted that he procured prescription Quaaludes for 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.
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, “We have no plans to issue a statement.”
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 Bounce network 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, 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 revelations surfaced that the comedian obtained drugs for women he wanted to sleep with. His representatives, who had been vocal up to that point, have been silent, The New York Times noted.
While several celebrities have blasted Cosby, some supported him before this week, including Whoopi Goldberg. “The View” co-host defended him before and after the revelation about the Quaaludes became public.
On Tuesday, however, she said on the show that she can no longer say “innocent until proven guilty.”
“If this is to be tried in the court of public opinion, I got to say all of the information that’s out there kind of points to guilt,” she said during a conversation with ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams.
CNN’s Jean Casarez, Lisa Respers France, Stella Chan, Kristina Sgueglia and Rebekah Metzler contributed to this report.