An Arizona congressman will introduce legislation to revoke embattled comedian Bill Coby’s Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday, the Republican lawmaker announced Thursday on Capitol Hill.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar, would revoke Bill Cosby’s Medal of Freedom as a result of Cosby’s own admissions under oath in 2005 regarding an alleged sexual assault that took place more than ten years ago.
It would also give any president the ability to take this honor away moving forward.
In fact, this legislation comes after President Barack Obama said during a July 2015 press conference “there's no precedent for revoking a medal. We don't have that mechanism."
Cosby was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 by President George W. Bush.
“Revoking Bill Cosby's Medal of Freedom won't undo his actions or heal the wounds of his victims but it will signal to the American people that we will not tolerate such lewd behavior,” Gosar said.
In the explosive legal deposition, Cosby admits to obtaining prescriptions of the powerful sedative known as Quaaludes with the intent to give them to women he wanted to have sex with, court documents show.
Cosby’s testimony was part of a civil suit involving the alleged sexual assault of a former Temple University employee in 2004.
The popular comedian was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault in connection with the 2004 case on Dec. 30, his first criminal charges in connection with the dozens of women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault or rape.
Cosby appeared in Philadelphia court last month and was ordered to surrender his passport after posting 10 percent in cash of a $1 million bond.
Lawmakers and advocates for victims of sexual violence have been pushing for Cosby to be striped of this honor following the release of Cosby’s testimony in July.
Angela Rose, executive director of advocacy group PAVE (Promoting Awareness | Victim Empowerment), said at the press conference Thursday that the medal was a symbol of the nation’s highest standards.
“This is not any medal or any award, this is not a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – this is a statement from the nation that this man reflects our nation’s highest standards of character and excellence,” Rose said. “And in the case of Mr. Crosby, that statement is wrong.”
Gosar said that while there is a presumption of innocence in the American legal system until proven guilty, Cosby’s admission of drugging women to have sex with them “place(s) him outside the bounds of whom we should admire in our society” and “is not becoming of this medal.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during the White House briefing Thursday “we'll take a look at the proposal if Congress takes a vote on it and we'll let you know if the president chooses to sign it.”
In addition to providing the means for the president to revoke the medal, the legislation also calls for fines or prison time of up to a year for a person who wears or displays their Medal of Freedom after it has been revoked.