After Cosby’s conviction, two more schools rescind honors of fallen icon


(Reuters) – Two more major U.S. universities rescinded honorary degrees bestowed on Bill Cosby, reflecting a broader reappraisal of the entertainer’s place in American culture after his sexual assault conviction.

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby exits the Montgomery County Courthouse after a jury convicted him in a sexual assault retrial in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh said they were revoking honors from Cosby, a black man who had transcended racial divides to become “America’s Dad.”

Long before his conviction, at least 15 schools had withdrawn honors from Cosby, as dozens of women went public with accusations of sexual assault, some of them dating to the 1960s.

“At the time the honorary degree was conferred, the university was unaware of the allegations that Mr. Cosby sexually assaulted dozens of women over decades,” Johns Hopkins said in a statement on Thursday a few hours after a jury convicted Cosby of three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

Carnegie Mellon said it would revoke the honorary degree it gave Cosby in 2007. “The university will not tolerate sexual violence,” it said.

Cosby’s own alma mater, Temple University in Philadelphia, said after the verdict it would reconsider his honorary degree.

It was as a trustee of Temple that Cosby first met Andrea Constand, a former university employee, whom he would drug and sexually assault in 2004 at his nearby home, 14 years before his conviction for the crime.

The University of Massachusetts, where the one-time high school dropout earned a doctorate in education, cut ties with Cosby in 2014.

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby exits Montgomery County Courthouse after a jury convicted him in a sexual assault retrial in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A question mark also hovers over the presence of the actor-comedian at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. Before his conviction, it grappled with how best to highlight Cosby’s impact on the culture while acknowledging the accusations against him.

Museum officials on Friday had no immediate comment about the fate of two Cosby items on display – a comic book from the 1960s Cosby show “I, Spy” and the cover of his 1964 album comedy album, “I Started Out as a Child.”

The museum, which opened in 2016, had initially decided against explaining Cosby’s legal problems in the exhibits but reversed course before its public opening and mentioned the allegations of sexual assault in the display material.

“This is not an exhibition that ‘honors or celebrates’ Bill Cosby but one that acknowledges his role, among many others, in American entertainment,” Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s founding director, said in 2016.

“The Cosby Show,” the sitcom that cemented Cosby’s standing as one of the country’s best-loved stars, already has become harder to find. The Bounce TV channel announced after the guilty verdict that it would pull reruns of the show from its schedules, Deadline Hollywood reported.

Wesley Morris, a critic for the New York Times, wrote on Thursday that Cosby had been a role model for a generation of young black men like him.

“Mr. Cosby told lots of jokes,” he said. “This was his sickest one.”

Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York and Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott

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