WASHINGTON – President Obama on Wednesday 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," he said. "We don't have that mechanism." Obama, 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 doubt about his views on 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 civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape."
Court documents 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 ways for Obama to take a more emphatic stand.
"Allowing Cosby to maintain this coveted symbol suggests that we as a society condone coercive sexual behavior," Rose said. More than 10,000 people have signed the group's petition calling for the medal to be rescinded.
More than two dozen women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. Many of them alleged that he drugged them before sex.