TV son says sex claims against Bill Cosby are "painful"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Malcolm Jamal-Warner, who played Bill Cosby's son on television, has told Billboard magazine he found it painful to hear the claims that the comedian sexually abused more than a dozen women.

Warner, who played Theo Huxtable on The Cosby Show in the 1980s and 1990s, told the music trade magazine on Wednesday that the allegations do not match Cosby's reputation. "The Bill Cosby I know has been great to me and great for a lot of people," said Warner, who is up for a Grammy Award next month as a featured performer on the Robert Glasper Experiment song Jesus Children.

"Just as it's painful to hear any woman talk about sexual assault, whether true or not, it's just as painful to watch my friend and mentor go through this," he was quoted as saying.

Over the last three months, more than a dozen women have come forward alleging that Cosby had sexually abused them. Many of those allegations are decades old and fall outside the statute of limitations for criminal or civil cases.

Cosby's attorney Marty Singer has dismissed the allegations as "discredited" and "defamatory". Warner, 44, told Billboard: "What he's done for comedy and television has been legendary and history-making. "What he's done for the black community and education has been invaluable. That's the Bill Cosby I know. I can't speak on the other stuff."

Warner has joined Cosby Show actors Phylicia Rashad and Keshia Knight Pulliam in defending the 77-year-old comedian. "He's one of my mentors, and he's been very influential and played a big role in my life as a friend and mentor," Warner said.