The wholesale disintegration of Bill Cosby’s carefully cultivated image as America’s untouchable father figure and national icon continues unabated.
Fordham University in New York is but the latest to revoke the honorary degree it awarded the now “unambiguously dishonorable” Cosby. This marks the first time in the history of the school that is has ever taken back an honorary degree.
“As a Jesuit university, Fordham could no longer stand behind the degree it had bestowed upon Mr. Cosby, hence this unprecedented action,” the school, based in the Bronx borough of New York City, said in a statement.
Cosby was bestowed the honorarium back in 2001 for “the significant role he played in breaking the color barrier in American television and popular culture, and his position as an inspirational figure for millions of African Americans.”
“At the time, there was no public awareness of the allegations of rape against him,” the school noted Thursday.
But in 2005, A Temple University woman Andrea Constand sued Cosby for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting her. That began a steady erosion of Cosby’s meticulously constructed public image as a clean-cut man who fiercely advocated education and moral righteousness.
It took 10 more years, when comedian Hannibal put Cosby on blast during one of his stage shows, basically calling the star of the legendary sitcom “The Cosby Show” a serial rapist. Immediately after, a steady drizzle of accusations have pelted Cosby with similar stories of being drugged then sexually assaulted.
Cosby, 78, denied the charges, and has remained largely legally unscathed because most of the women Cosby allegedly raped happened decades ago, long exceeding the statute of limitation on which they could have brought forth charges.
“By his own admission, Mr. Cosby’s sexual exploitation of women was premeditated and ongoing. Equally appalling is his longtime strategy of denigrating the reputations of women who accused him of such actions,” the school’s statement said.
“That Mr. Cosby was willing to drug and rape women for his sexual gratification, and further damage those same women’s reputations and careers to obscure his guilt, hurt not only his victims, but all women, and is beyond the pale.”