What Pres. Obama Has to Say About Bill Cosby

July 15th 2015

Laura Donovan

President Barack Obama spoke out Wednesday regarding the multiple sexual assault allegations against actor Bill Cosby. Obama was asked about Cosby in the context of a petition calling to revoke Cosby's Presidential Medal of Freedom award. Though Obama said such a move would be "unprecedented" and that he didn't wish to weigh in on pending litigation, he said that drugging someone and then having non-consensual sex with that person is rape.

"I’ll say this," the president said. "If you give a woman or a man for that matter, without his or her knowledge, a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape. And I think this country, any civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape."

Thirteen years ago, George W. Bush gave Cosby the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) have endorsed efforts to revoke Cosby's award.

“Kirsten has always advocated for listening to survivors’ voices," Gillibrand spokesman Glen Caplin told POLITICO earlier this month. "This 10-year-old admission is appalling, but sadly not surprising considering that dozens of women have been speaking out. She supports this group’s effort because we need to set a clear example that sexual assault will not be tolerated in this country, and someone who admitted to using drugs for sex no longer deserves the nation’s highest honor.”

President Obama has been outspoken on the topic of sexual assault. A year and a half ago, Obama put increased pressure on colleges and universities to fight sexual assault on campus. The White House Council on Women and Girls released a report regarding sexual assault and found campuses are the most common places for rape to occur. The findings revealed one in five students experiences assault and less than 15 percent of them report it.

Later that year, Obama launched the "It's On Us" campaign to combat campus sexual assault.

"From sports leagues to pop culture to politics, our society does not sufficiently value women,” Obama said in the East Room in September. “We still don’t condemn sexual assault as loudly as we should. It is not just on parents of young women to caution them, it is on the parents of young men to teach them respect for women. It is on grown men to set an example and be clear about what it means to be a man."

Jon Hamm, Kerry Washington, and a few other celebrities appeared in an "It's On Us" PSA as well: