Bill Cosby’s appearance at a Christian university’s fundraising event has been cancelled following controversy over his alleged predatory sexual behaviour.
Freed-Hardeman University (FHU) had booked Cosby to speak at its Annual Benefit Dinner and attempted to tough out calls for him to be dropped amid a storm of publicity.
Cosby has long been one of the best-loved figures in American entertainment. However, at least 16 women have come forward to say that the actor, 77, had sexually assaulted them. Some of the allegations date back more than 30 years.
A FHU statement said: “As recent developments have overshadowed the FHU Benefit Dinner’s mission of helping students, Freed-Hardeman University has canceled Dr Bill Cosby’s appearance and received confirmation that Dr Ben Carson will speak at the dinner.”
FHU President Joe Wiley said: “As important as this event is to our students, we know that names we have seen in the media represent real people who will be affected long after FHU’s dinner has passed. Please join us in praying for healing and peace for those involved.”
Protesters had planned to demonstrate at FHU if Cosby took part in the fundraiser. The fallout from the allegations against Cosby has included Netflix cancelling his comedy special and NBC dropping plans for a new television series.
Allegations about Cosby’s behaviour date back many years, but came to a head in February with a Newsweek article about alleged assaults. A string of women came forward to accuse him of molesting them.
In an indication of how far “America’s Dad” has fallen in the public’s estimation, he has slipped from third place in a list of most trusted celebrities compiled by The Marketing Arm, from joint third to 2,615.
“The list changes weekly with celebrities that are well-known and some not as well-known moving up or down a spot or two based on their new data,” said The Marketing Arm spokesman Billy Embody. “It almost changes weekly, but we rarely see a drop like Cosby’s.”
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