Cosby blames racism for sexual assault claims

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby arrives for his arraignment on sexual assault charges at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Pennsylvania, on Dec 30, 2015.
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby arrives for his arraignment on sexual assault charges at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Pennsylvania, on Dec 30, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • In a rare interview, Bill Cosby says he does not expect to testify at his upcoming felony sexual assault trial and that he believes racism played a big role in the scandal.

During a 30-minute conversation with Sirius-XM host Michael Smerconish that aired on Tuesday, the 79-year-old entertainer portrays himself as a victim of the media and of accusers who were "piling on".

Cosby, who has been accused of sexual misdeeds by at least 60 women, cited a feminist author, saying: "Gloria Steinem had a very interesting quote. She said, 'The truth shall set you free, but first it might p*** you off.'"

His interview is part of a roll-out of orchestrated media appearances in advance of the start of jury selection on Monday in his trial on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting Ms Andrea Constand, a former Temple University women's basketball official, in 2004 at his estate in suburban Philadelphia.

Earlier this week, two of Cosby's daughters - Ensa and Erinn - provided taped statements to The Breakfast Club, a nationally syndicated radio programme. Ensa said: "My father is being punished by a society that still believes black men rape white women, but passes it off as 'boys will be boys' when white men are accused."

Asked whether he agreed with that view, Cosby said: "Could be," before adding: "I just truly believe that some of it may very well be that." He did not respond when asked to reconcile the claim with the fact that some of his accusers are black.

Steinem said it was a "mystery" to her why Cosby would cite her.

When Smerconish asked if he will testify, Cosby replied, "No," saying that lawyers can twist a witness' words. "When you have to deal with examination, cross-examination... more than two sides to every story - sometimes, it's four or five," he said.

He described preparing a Mother's Day meal for his wife of more than five decades, Camille, and spoke about growing up in a poor Philadelphia neighbourhood. He also said she has never wavered in her support.

He said he intended to return to performing following the trial. "I still feel that I have an awful lot to offer in terms of my writing, in terms of my performance," he said.

THE WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2017, with the headline 'Cosby blames racism for sexual assault claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe