(Reuters) - A U.S. congressman from Arizona said on Thursday he would introduce a bill to strip Bill Cosby of his Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor, citing the sexual assault allegations against the entertainer.
The move came a week after the 78-year-old Cosby, who personified the model family man in his hit 1980s television series “The Cosby Show,” was charged in Pennsylvania with sexually assaulting a woman after plying her with drugs and alcohol in 2004.
Cosby and his attorneys have acknowledged marital infidelity on his part but have denied any allegations of sexual misconduct.
Republican Representative Paul Gosar told reporters in Washington that he and several colleagues would propose the bill on Friday.
The legislation would call for President Barack Obama to revoke the medal, which Cosby received in 2002, affirm his legal capacity to do so, and bring criminal penalties against anyone displaying the medal after having it revoked.
When asked last summer about the possibility of revoking Cosby’s medal, Obama said there was no such mechanism, but that civilized countries should have no tolerance for rape.
“To continue honoring Bill Cosby with this prestigious accolade would be an affront to women nationwide, particularly those who were victims of his horrific acts,” Gosar said.
He cited Cosby’s admission in a 2005 deposition that he had obtained Quaaludes, a sedative that was a popular recreational drug in the 1970s, intending to give them to young women in order to have sex with them.
The deposition was entered in a civil case brought by Andrea Constand, who ultimately settled with Cosby for an undisclosed sum in 2006. Allegations in that case triggered last week’s criminal charges, the only such case against the entertainer.
More than 50 women in recent months have publicly accused the star of sexually assaulting them in incidents dating back decades.
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said it would not bring criminal charges against Cosby stemming from sexual assault allegations by two women over separate incidents, one dating back to 1965 and the other to 2008.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Peter Cooney