Nov 21, 2014 6:21 PM
More Cosby shows canceled as women allege rape
The Associated Press
MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) As Bill Cosby's standup tour crumbled with shows canceled in six states, the embattled entertainer received standing ovations from a sold-out crowd when he took the stage and when he left it Friday in Florida.
Performances in Oklahoma, Nevada, Illinois, Arizona, South Carolina and Washington State, though, were called off as more women come forward accusing the entertainer of sexually assaulting them many years ago.
The director of The Broadway Center in Tacoma, Washington, said Friday that it has canceled Cosby's April appearance because it conflicts with the nonprofit organization's mission "to strengthen our community's social fabric by building empathy, furthering education and sharing joy."
"We were not confident in our ability to meet those objectives by proceeding with Mr. Cosby's performance," David Fischer said.
Meanwhile, Cosby lawyer Martin Singer said Friday that the claims of women with "unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40 or even 50 years ago have escalated far past the point of absurdity."
"Over and over again, we have refuted these new unsubstantiated stories with documentary evidence, only to have a new uncorroborated story crop up out of the woodwork," Singer said. "When will it end? It is long past time for this media vilification of Mr. Cosby to stop."
Fans filled up a sold-out theater in Melbourne, Florida. The 77-year-old comedian, wearing cargo pants and a shirt that said "Hello Friend," took the stage to a standing ovation and loud applause. At least twice, someone shouted, "We love you, Bill Cosby."
Though an announcer before the show said disruptions were possible, none ever came. A radio station had offered $1,000 to anyone who would interrupt Cosby.
Outside the theater, only one protester could be found. She held a sign that read, "Rape is no joke."
Julie Lemaitre, 47, of Rockledge, Florida, said she was there just to have a presence and to try to say to people attending "think about what you're doing."
Cosby's producers said at least 28 other shows remain on his schedule through May 2015.
However, shows in Las Vegas, Tucson, Arizona, Champaign, Illinois, Reno, Nevada, Florence, South Carolina, and at the Choctaw Casino Resort in Oklahoma were called off. No specific reasons were given.
Fans in Florida said they were at the Maxwell C. King Center For The Performing Arts to see good comedy and that the accusations didn't influence them.
"Let them prove it. It's old accusations," said Paul Palmieri, 47, of Melbourne, who said he was ready to see "the king of comedy."
Jim Millican, 67, of Cocoa, Florida, agreed.
"These women, if they want to settle it, they should settle it in court," he said, noting that prosecutors didn't bring charges.
Still, projects on NBC and Netflix have been canceled, and TV Land decided not to air reruns of "The Cosby Show" after recent allegations by more than six women that Cosby sexually assaulted them after giving them pills many years ago.
Josette Tornabene, 24, of Melbourne said she bought her ticket Friday, motivated by the radio's station's $1,000 offer.
"I wanted to see someone call him out," she said. "I want to see him be held accountable."
Some of the women accusing Cosby are going public again after initially coming forward around 2005, when Andrea Constand filed a civil suit alleging that she was sexually assaulted by him. The Pennsylvania woman's lawyer said other women were prepared to make similar claims, but the case was settled before trial.
Tamara Green, a California attorney, was among those who had agreed to testify. She later said Cosby tried to sexually assault her in her Los Angeles apartment around 1970, when she was a model and an aspiring actress.
She said Cosby asked her to help him raise money to open a private dance club. When she got sick shortly after starting the project, she said Cosby gave her two pills that made her almost lose consciousness, took her to her apartment, undressed her and then took his clothes off.
"I got really angry," she told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday. She recalled screaming and trying to break a window with a lamp as she fought off Cosby's advances. He eventually left, leaving two $100 bills on her nightstand, she recalled.
"I think that my blood pressure and my fury was keeping me from losing consciousness," she said.
Another woman, Joan Tarshis, decided to tell her story publicly for the first time on Monday.
Now 66, Tarshis said Cosby gave her drug-laced drinks twice in 1969, forcing her to perform a sex act the first time and raping her the second time. She said she told no one about this for decades, and only decided to go public when she read a Nov. 13 column in The Washington Post by Barbara Bowman, who alleges she was drugged and raped by Cosby when she was 17.
"I actually spoke with Barbara Bowman yesterday," Tarshis told the AP on Friday. "It was great. Because she's a person who understands what I've been through."
Cosby's representatives have broadly dismissed the accusations. He has never been charged with any such crime. Cosby himself has consistently refused to comment on it.
"We don't answer that," Cosby told the AP this month.
Contributors include Frazier Moore, Mark Kennedy, David Bauder and Alexandra Otto in New York, Michael Virtanen in Albany, New York, and Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles.