President Obama said he cannot revoke embattled actor and comedian Bill Cosby's Presidential Medal of Freedom, despite calls for the president to take it back after allegations that Cosby allegedly had sex with women after drugging them.
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"There's no precedent for revoking a medal. We don't have that mechanism," the president said in a news conference this afternoon.
While he would not comment on the specifics of ongoing criminal or civil cases, the president said rape is not tolerable.
"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," the president said. "I think this country, any civilized country should have no tolerance for rape."
PAVE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sexual assault prevention and survivor empowerment, started a petition on WhiteHouse.gov just last week urging the president to revoke Cosby's presidential medal of freedom, which was bestowed upon him by President George W. Bush in 2009.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest award bestowed on civilians for their contributions to society. Bill Cosby does not deserve to be on the list of distinguished recipients,” the petition states. “We urge the administration to take the unprecedented action of revoking this award.”
A 2005 court filing released last week revealed Cosby admitted to obtaining prescription drugs with the intent of giving them to women whom he wanted to have sex with.
Cosby has never been charged with a crime in connection to the accusations of drugging and sexual assault and his lawyers have denied the allegations.
"The only reason Mr. Cosby settled was because it would have been embarrassing in those days to put all those women on the stand and his family had no clue," the Cosby camp said in a statement to ABC News last week. "That would have been very hurtful."