Bill Cosby’s plans to embark on a series of “town halls” touching on the topic of sexual assault have been condemned by victim advocacy groups and social media users alike.
“It would be more useful if Mr. Cosby would spend time talking with people about how not to commit sexual assault in the first place,” Jodi Omear, a spokesperson for the anti-sexual violence organization RAINN, said in a statement.
“He will fail,” tweeted “Trainwreck” director Judd Apatow.
The comedian’s spokesperson Andrew Wyatt revealed the plans in an interview on WBRC’s “Good Day Alabama, but he didn’t provide any details about the town halls beyond that the speaking engagements would aim to be educational.
“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 that they shouldn’t be doing,” he said. “And it also affects married men.”
In an email to the New York Times, Wyatt clarified that the speeches would be free, and come in response to “hundreds of calls from civic organizations and churches requesting for Mr. Cosby to speak to young men and women about the judicial system.”
“Let’s call this tour what it really is: Bill Cosby’s ‘how to get away with rape and sexual assault’ tour,” said Nita Chaudry, the co-founder of the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet, in a statement. “The fact that Cosby, a man who has admitted to drugging women with quaaludes, would have the audacity to travel the country teaching men how to avoid rape accusations is a disgusting display of rape culture in action.”
Twitter user Eve Peyser cited a story about Cosby’s planned speaking tour and simply said, “1. stay the f— away from Bill Cosby.” “Bill Cosby holding town halls about sexual assault is indisputable proof that he is a geriatric f—boy. That takes some nerve,” tweeted Awesomely Luvvie.
The topic was even broached on the CBS daytime talk show “The Talk.” Co-host Aisha Tyler expressed her disbelief about the announcement on Thursday’s show. “This guy never ceases to shock and disappoint,” she said. “I think there’s only one thing you need to know about how to avoid sexual assault: Don’t sexually assault anybody.”
Cosby’s announcement came after his criminal sexual assault trial ended in a mistrial on Saturday. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said he intends to retry the 79-year-old comedian on three counts of aggravated sexual assault stemming from a 2014 encounter with former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. Cosby, who remains free on bail, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
See some of the reaction to Cosby’s announcement on Twitter below: