LOS ANGELES (AP) — A spokeswoman for Bill Cosby is clarifying the purpose of the comedian’s planned town hall meetings after she and a colleague initially appeared to draw a link between the meetings and his mistrial on felony charges of sexual assault.
“I just want to be clear,” Ebonee Benson told CNN. “The town hall meetings are not about sexual assault. I will repeat: These town hall meetings are not about sexual assault.”
The town halls are aimed at restoring Cosby’s legacy, and that’s what she and fellow Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt meant to say during an Alabama TV station interview last week. Cosby was tried on charges stemming from an encounter with former Temple University worker Andrea Constand, who alleged that Cosby drugged and molested her in 2004.
Cosby, 79, contends the encounter was consensual.
In last Wednesday’s interview with Birmingham station WBRC, Wyatt said:
“We’ll talk to young people. Because this is bigger than Bill Cosby. You know, this, this issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today.
“And they need to know what they’re facing when they’re hanging out and partying, when they’re doing certain things they shouldn’t be doing,” he said, adding, “And it also affects married men.”
Benson, who had read comments from Cosby’s wife, Camille, slamming prosecutors after the trial ended with a hung jury, said in that WBRC interview that people need to be aware of changing laws regarding sexual assault, including on statute of limitations.
Their interview resulted in an outcry over the plans for the town halls.
Neither she nor Wyatt responded to a request for comment from The Associated Press on Monday.
But on CNN Sunday, Benson blamed media reports for triggering criticism of Cosby’s town hall plans, including from anti-sexual violence groups who suggested he was being hypocritical.
Instead of sexual assault, Benson said, “it is about continuing on with what Mr. Cosby started 50 years ago when he began in the entertainment business, which is the importance of community, importance of education.”
Prosecutors have said Cosby will be retried on sexual assault charges, but Wyatt said Sunday he doubts there will be another trial, pointing to the deadlocked jury.
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.
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