After two universities rescinded Bill Cosby’s doctorates, honorary degrees bestowed by those institutions, an attorney for the famed actor and comedian says that one of the universities misrepresented Cosby, either through ignorance or malice. Over the past year, the public’s awareness of the allegations against Cosby has grown, and the allegations themselves have grown, to include more than fifty women.
The consequences for Cosby are widespread: he has lost fans, been the center of negative press, and his shows have been removed from television networks and subscription services. The latest round of repercussions for the comedian have been from a series of universities that don’t want to be associated with an alleged rapist.
Central State University, in Ohio, was among the first. According to the News-Herald, the university, which has accepted donations from the Cosby family, used to call its communications building the “Camille O. & William H. Cosby Communications Center.” However, the institution removed Cosby’s name from its wall earlier this month, and renamed the building, simply the “CSU Communication Center.”
Last week, Fordham University in New York City rescinded Cosby’s honorary doctorate, and earlier this week, Marquette University in Wisconsin followed suit. According to the Journal-Sentinal, this was a first for both universities. Neither had ever rescinded an honorary degree before, after granting it. These are two of twenty-three universities from which Bill Cosby holds honorary degrees.
While the loss of his doctorates may sting, Bill Cosby’s legal team isn’t taking issue with the slights themselves, but with the wording used in one university’s press release on the matter. According to People, Fordham University’s statement referred to a deposition made public earlier this year.
That deposition was taken in 2005, and in it, Cosby admits he is guilty of a number of the allegations leveled against him. These include sex with various women outside his marriage, the purchase of drugs that would be used in these sexual encounters, as well as convincing a doctor to prescribe drugs under false pretense, and paying off women to keep silent about the encounters.
What Cosby does not ever say in the deposition is that any of the sexual encounters were anything but consensual.
However, in Fordham University’s statement, it’s strongly implied that the deposition includes such an admission.
“By his own admission, Mr. Cosby’s sexual exploitation of women was premeditated and ongoing.”
The photo below, from a protest outside a Bill Cosby event earlier this year, that many members of the public take the allegations seriously, despite his denials.
Bill Cosby’s attorney has sent a letter to the university, saying that Cosby has been convicted of no crime, and has always maintained his innocence in the rape allegations, and that his statements in the deposition do not “[lend] any support to, much less [confirm] any such allegations.”
The attorney also reiterates that Cosby’s statements in the 2005 deposition do not include any admission to any non-consensual acts.
He calls the statement “so irresponsible as to shock the conscience” and declares that the clear conclusion from the statement is that the writer either never read Cosby’s deposition, or is deliberately misrepresenting the actor’s words. He further hints that the material will be relevant to defamation lawsuits currently underway.
Bill Cosby himself has not publicly addressed the loss of his honorary doctorates, or the other efforts by universities to distance themselves from his name.
[Photos by David A. Smith/Getty Images, Marcus Ingram/Getty Images]