Bill Cosby will not dignify “decade-old, discredited” claims of sexual abuse with a response, his attorney said Sunday, the first reaction from the famed comedian to an increasing uproar over allegations that he assaulted several women in the past.
In a statement released to The Associated Press and posted online, lawyer John P. Schmitt said the fact that the allegations are being repeated “does not make them true.”
“He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work,” Schmitt said.
The renewed attention to a dark chapter for Cosby began last month when a comedian, Hannibal Buress, assailed him during a stand-up performance in Philadelphia, calling him a “rapist.” His remarks were captured on video and posted online, gaining wide exposure.
It was harsh criticism of the veteran entertainer known equally for his charming standup comedy, ethnically groundbreaking 1984-92 NBC TV sitcom “The Cosby Show” and demands for personal responsibility directed at fellow African-Americans.
Adding to the growing firestorm: One of Cosby’s accusers, Barbara Bowman, leveled allegations of sexual assault against him in interviews and in an online column for the Washington Post. Bowman wrote that in 1985, she was 17 and an aspiring actress when Cosby “brainwashed me into viewing him as a father figure, and then assaulted me multiple times.”
Cosby, who was never criminally charged in any case, settled a civil suit in 2006 with another woman over an alleged incident two years before.
Whether the latest scrutiny will substantially affect his still-active career has yet to be seen. An appearance on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” was canceled, and another engagement, on “The Queen Latifah Show” on Oct. 30, was characterized by that show as a postponement granted at Cosby’s request.
He has standup performances scheduled, including one Sunday night in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a special premiering Nov. 28 for Netflix. Cosby has been in talks with NBC for a new family sitcom, featuring Cosby as the patriarch. No air date has been announced.