The Kennedy Center has withdrawn two awards given to disgraced comedian Bill Cosby — the 1998 Kennedy Center Honors and and the 2009 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
“Today the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts voted to rescind two artistic achievement awards the institution had previously bestowed upon Bill Cosby: the Kennedy Center Honors (1998) and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (2009),” a center spokesperson said in a statement Monday. “The Honors and Mark Twain Prize are given to artists who, through their lifetime of work, have left an indelible impact on American culture. As a result of Mr. Cosby’s recent criminal conviction, the Board concluded that his actions have overshadowed the very career accomplishments these distinctions from the Kennedy Center intend to recognize.”
Cosby last month was found guilty in a retrial on sexual assault charges. A jury ruled against Cosby for aggravated indecent assault in all three counts brought against him by Andrea Constand. The 80-year-old comedian and actor now faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.
Each count for which Cosby was found guilty carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Sentencing is expected to take place later this year, setting up the possibility that a hearing could become a forum for some of the more than 50 women who have said that Cosby sexually assaulted them.
Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually molesting Andrea Constand, who served as operations manager for the women’s basketball team at Temple University, at his home outside Philadelphia in 2004. Cosby contended the sexual contact was consensual, but a jury determined that it was not.
Last week, Cosby’s membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was revoked. The Television Academy also removed all reference to Cosby from its website, including from its list of Television Hall of Fame honorees.