US President, Barack Obama, has rejected the idea of revoking comedian Bill Cosby’s Presidential Medal of Freedom because of sexual misconduct allegations, according to a Sky news report.
“There’s no precedent for revoking a medal,” Mr Obama said at a news conference on Wednesday when asked about the claims facing the comic.
“We don’t have that mechanism.”
While declining to specifically address the allegations, the President was unequivocal on the wider issue of rape.
“If you give a woman, or a man, for that matter, without his or her knowledge a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape,” he said.
“And I think this country, any civilised country, should have no tolerance for rape.”
Cosby was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House in 2002 by former President George W Bush.
More than 40 women have come forward in the past year to claim that the comic sexually assaulted them – some also saying they were drugged.
The actor-comedian, best known for hit sitcom The Cosby Show, has never been criminally charged.
Many of the claims date back to the 1970s and are too old for him to face criminal proceedings.
But the star has seen his career nosedive since the allegations started to pile up, with TV shows and live events being cancelled.
Cosby once admitted under oath to obtaining sedatives with the intent of giving them to women he wanted to have sex with, according to a 2005 lawsuit made public this month.
He said he used Quaaludes, known as Mandrax in the UK, on at least one woman, but denied using the drug against Andrea Constand, who was suing him for sexual assault.
That case was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2006.