LOS ANGELES — Bill Cosby will not dignify “decade-old, discredited” claims of sexual abuse with a response, his attorney said Sunday, the first comment from the famed comedian’s lawyer on an increasing uproar over allegations that he assaulted several women in the past.
The renewed attention to a dark chapter for Cosby began last month when a comedian, Hannibal Buress, assailed him during a stand-up performance in Philadelphia, Cosby’s hometown, calling him a “rapist.” His remarks were captured on video and posted online, gaining wide exposure.
It was harsh criticism of the veteran entertainer known equally for his charming standup comedy, ethnically groundbreaking NBC TV sitcom “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s and demands for personal responsibility directed at fellow blacks.
Adding to the growing firestorm: One of Cosby’s accusers, Barbara Bowman, leveled allegations of sexual assault against him in interviews and in an online column for the Washington Post. Bowman wrote that in 1985, she was 17 and an aspiring actress when Cosby “brainwashed me into viewing him as a father figure, and then assaulted me multiple times.”
Cosby, who was never criminally charged, settled a civil suit in 2006 with another woman over an alleged incident two years before.
Cosby has standup performances scheduled, including one Sunday night in Erie, and a special premiering Nov. 28 for Netflix. Cosby has been in talks with NBC for a new family sitcom, featuring Cosby as the patriarch. No air date has been announced.
He has kept to his busy concert schedule despite the furor, with shows last week in Madison and La Crosse, Wis.; Rosemont, Ill., in the Chicago area on Saturday, and Carnegie Hall in New York on Nov. 8.
An email request Sunday to Netflix on the status of its project with Cosby did not receive an immediate response. NBC declined comment.