U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand on Friday threw her support behind an effort to revoke Bill Cosby's Presidential Medal of Freedom in light of recent reports and allegations of sexual assault by the actor.
A petition started by the group PAVE (Promoting Awareness/Victim Empowerment) has gained more than 5,000 signatures on the White House's website, and calls for the White House to revoke the award.
"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 reads.
Cosby has been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting women in the past. This week, small parts of a 2005 deposition were made public in which the actor says he obtained Quaaludes with the intent of using them to have sex with women. Cosby has never been charged, and he and his representatives have repeatedly denied the allegations.
"Kirsten has always advocated for listening to survivors' voices. This 10-year-old admission is appalling, but sadly not surprising considering that dozens of women have been speaking out," Gillibrand spokesperson Glen Caplin said in a statement. Gillibrand is a Democrat who represents New York.
"She supports this group's effort because we need to set a clear example that sexual assault will not be tolerated in this country, and someone who admitted to using drugs for sex no longer deserves the nation's highest honor,” the statement said.
In an interview with the St Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat that represents Missouri, also said she supports the effort.
Bill Cosby was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 9, 2002 by President George W. Bush.