Comedian Cosby caught in sexual assault whirl

Nasty allegations have been haunting one of America’s most iconic comedians with a reputation for moral wholesomeness. For nine years, Bill Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by women who say they were the victims.

Criticism of one of television’s most beloved stars is escalating with renewed attention to allegations that he sexually assaulted women in several incidents decades ago.

The latest evidence is the cancellation of a planned appearance by Cosby, scheduled for Wednesday, on David Letterman’s late-night show on CBS. The show declined to say on Friday whether Cosby withdrew from the appearance or the show made the decision to replace him. “We can’t comment on the booking process,” a spokeswoman for the show, Kim Izzo-Emmet, said.

Cosby has repeatedly said that the allegations are untrue. And he has never been prosecuted.

But since 2005, a handful of women have made the claim. This year, those accusations resurfaced, and on Monday, a seemingly harmless post to Cosby’s confirmed Twitter account turned them into a social media storm.

In its wake, one of his accusers, Barbara Bowman, turned to the public once more with an article in the Washington Post.

Bowman claims she was drugged then raped, though she said she never saw drugs. She was 17 and an aspiring actress when she met Cosby in 1985. She considered him to be her mentor.

She also said the abuse began after she turned 18. “I woke up out of a very confused state not in my clothes.” She said she knew her body had been touched without her permission. This occurred several times in the course of their contact, she said.

Bowman’s allegations follow similar charges by other women, one of whom, Andrea Constand, filed a civil suit against Cosby in 2005, which promised to include testimony from 13 other then-unnamed women.

This week, an effort to kick up some favourable attention for Cosby, in the form of a thread on Twitter instigated on behalf of the comedian, blew up into a chorus of nasty comments about him sexually assaulting women.

Stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress stirred a new round of attention on the allegations when he assailed Cosby in a routine on stage in Philadelphia last month.

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