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PASADENA, California (Reuters) - NBC canceled plans for a new television show with Bill Cosby because the number of women accusing the comedian of sexual assault reached a level that tainted the project, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said on Friday.
Greenblatt, speaking at a Television Critics Association meeting, said it was "safe to say" NBC would never pursue a future show with the comedian, who starred in the network's hit 1980s family sitcom "The Cosby Show."
"Fifteen women came out and accused him," Greenblatt said in response to questions about the network's decision in November to drop its development of Cosby's new show.
"While over the years we'd heard some of those accusations and knew there were a couple settlements, it didn't seem to be the sort of thing that was critical mass," he said, adding that it was a "tainted situation."
Over the last three months, more than a dozen women have come forward alleging that Cosby had sexually assaulted them. Many of those allegations are decades old and fall outside the statute of limitations for criminal or civil cases.
Cosby's attorney, Marty Singer, has dismissed the allegations as "discredited" and "defamatory."
Cosby, best known for his "America's Dad" persona Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the "Cosby Show," has never been charged over any of the allegations. He settled a 2005 civil suit alleging sexual misconduct.
The new show was early in development and the network had not yet received a draft script, Greenblatt said.
The day before NBC canceled the show in November, streaming company Netflix Inc pulled Cosby's stand-up comedy special "Bill Cosby, 77," which had been due to be released on Nov. 28.
Cosby's attorney and publicist did not return emails seeking comment on Greenblatt's remarks.
But his attorney, Martin Singer, did send a statement refuting the claims of a woman, Chloe Goins, who accuses Cosby of sexually abusing her in 2008 at the Playboy Mansion and who met with Los Angeles police on Wednesday.
"The party took place on August 9, 2008. Mr. Cosby was in New York on that date," Singer said in the statement. "We will be providing documentary evidence to the appropriate authorities which conclusively establishes Mr. Cosby’s whereabouts on August 9th and for the preceding and succeeding days."
Editing by Mary Milliken and Leslie Adler