Bill Cosby, awaiting trial on a 12-year-old sexual assault case, has been stripped of another honorary degree, this time from George Washington University.
Cosby’s lawyers seek a dismissal of the Pennsylvania case and claim the prosecutor is using the matter for political gain. The next court hearing is Thursday.
From a letter students GWU President Steven Knapp penned to the university community:
“(L)ast fall raised the question of whether, given the numerous allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby, the university should rescind the honorary doctoral degree it conferred on Mr. Cosby in 1997. Last October, we issued a statement indicating that honorary degrees were conferred at a moment in time, based upon what was known about the candidate at that time, and it had never been the university’s practice to rescind a degree in response to later information. 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.”