President Obama, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, addressed allegations that Bill Cosby drugged multiple women before sexually assaulting them but said there is no “mechanism” for revoking the entertainer’s Medal of Freedom.
Obama said he would not comment on the “specifics of cases where there might still be if not criminal but civil issues involved.”
Parts of a deposition Cosby gave as part of an accuser’s 2005 lawsuit were unsealed earlier this month, in which Cosby said that he acquired drugs for the purpose to giving to women he wanted to have sex with. He admitted giving the sedative to one woman and “other people.”
“I will say this,” Obama said. “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, and in this country, any civilized country should have no tolerance for rape.”
A White House petition is calling for revoking Cosby’s Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award, and still needs almost 90,000 signatures to warrant a response. But Obama said that “there is no precedent for revoking a medal. We don’t have that mechanism.”
More than two dozen women have accused Cosby of assault or rape over the past 40 years. He has not been charged with a crime and has denied wrongdoing. He made suggestions in the deposition that his sexual activity had been consensual, but some of his accusers are now calling for the release of the full deposition.