On Monday, Jan. 11, George Washington University joined the growing number of colleges to take back one of Bill Cosby’s honorary degrees. The prestigious University cited sexual abuse allegations against Cosby. The entertainer’s lawyers looked to dismiss these charges in Pennsylvania.
Regarding the incident, defense attorney Monique Pressley said, “The charges should separately be dismissed on due process grounds because the over a decade delay in bringing these charges by a District Attorney’s office with subpoena power capable of obtaining Mr. Cosby’s deposition testimony, since it was given ten years ago, was inexcusable and has greatly prejudiced Mr. Cosby’s ability to defend himself.”
Honorary degrees are one of the last ties colleges such as Tufts, Brown, and Boston University have with Cosby, so more institutions are deciding to rescind them. The allegations came from dozens of women, claiming to have been drugged and sexually abused by the former actor, having taken place over past decades. 50 women came forward in Oct. 2014, defaming Cosby’s reputation and character. GWU is the latest university to be added to the list.
Steven Knapp, the college’s president, shared a letter to the Washington, D.C. school’s campus explaining the reason for revoking the degree Cosby was given back in 1997. In October, GW officials announced that they didn’t take back degrees based on what it learned later about recipients, so this recent announcement seemed to reverse this decision.
Knapp wrote, “Since then, however, I have continued to discuss this issue with students as well as colleagues. What has particularly moved and impressed me has been the argument that, whatever may ultimately be determined about the guilt or innocence of Mr. Cosby in a court of law, the controversy itself has become a cause of renewed distress for our students and alumni who are survivors of sexual assault. That makes this case different, in my considered judgment, from other cases in which the assessment of a degree candidate might be altered by subsequent information or events. I have therefore decided that the university will rescind Mr. Cosby’s honorary degree.”
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