Lawyer defends Cosby on assault claims

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Bill Cosby's lawyer has dismissed sexual assault accusations against the comedian as both old and previously discredited.

Lawyer John P. Schmitt issued the statement after the release last weekend of an interview with Cosby on National Public Radio in which he reacted with complete silence - and shakes of the head - to questions about charges that he sexually assaulted a series of women in the 1980s.

In the latest allegations to be aired, a woman described in an editorial on Sunday being drugged and raped by the comedian in 1969.

"Over the last several weeks, decade- old, discredited allegations against Mr Cosby have resurfaced," the lawyer's statement said. "The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr Cosby or any of his representatives."

The lawyer did not detail how the accusations had been discredited.

In the past, Cosby and his lawyers have denied the charges, but a settlement was reached with one woman, Andrea Constand, a former employee of his alma mater Temple University, in 2006 in a civil suit that had promised to include testimony from 13 other women making similar allegations.

The recent frenzy began with a stand-up routine in which comedian Hannibal Buress branded Cosby a "rapist" during a show in the star's home town of Philadelphia. The performance video was first published a month ago on PhillyMag.com.

One of the 13 women, actress Barbara Bowman, made her charges public in an essay for The Washington Post published last Thursday. She wrote that in 1985, Cosby - at that point a star on The Cosby Show - offered to be her mentor, then "brainwashed me into viewing him as a father figure, and then assaulted me multiple times".

Publicist and former actress Joan Tarshis was the latest to come forward on Sunday. On the blog Hollywood Elsewhere, she wrote that she was raped twice by Cosby when she was 19 and working with him in 1969.

"The next thing I remember was coming to on his couch while being undressed," she wrote of the first incident. "Through the haze I thought I was being clever when I told him I had an infection and he would catch it and his wife would know he had sex with someone."

But he carried on, she wrote. "I was sickened... and shocked that this man I had idolised was now raping me. Of course I told no one."

 
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