Sexual assault victims want university to reconsider inviting Bill Cosby to speak

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There’s mounting pressure on a West Tennessee Christian college to reconsider its invitation to comedian Bill Cosby.

Freed-Hardeman University near Jackson invited Cosby to be a guest speaker, even though more women have come forward accusing him of rape.

Wednesday, the university said the show will go on with Cosby, infuriating a Memphis advocacy group for sexual assault victims.

The Memphis Chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) works with all rape victims. Leader David Brown said if the university allows Cosby to speak, it will rub salt in the wounds of those healing from sexual assault.

“If he does show up December 5 to the auditorium, I’ll be out there protesting, and I won’t be alone,” Brown said.

Several women accused Cosby of drugging and raping them. Some incidents date back to the ’60s.

Brown doesn’t understand why the Christian private college is OK with letting Cosby speak at its annual benefit dinner.

“I know this is about raising money, but you can raise money more admirably than this,” he said.

Brown sent a letter to the university, saying, “If you keep him as your keynote speaker, your fine university will hurt so many, and you will never know the harm that you have done.”

“I got a letter back saying, ‘Oh, we are glad you got healed from your problem; however, we are still going to go forward,'” Brown said.

Wednesday, the university released this statement:

Our 50th FHU Benefit Dinner remains scheduled for Friday, Dec. 5, to focus on our main goal — providing an avenue for donors to invest in the students’ lives. We committed to a contract with Bill Cosby many months ago after soliciting input from alumni and friends. While recent developments have drawn attention to our event because of the speaker, we hope that people will remember: 1.) this dinner is about helping students, and 2.) while we are reading stories in the media, they represent real people whose lives will be affected long after FHU’s dinner has passed. Please join us in praying for healing and peace for those involved.

So far, Cosby hasn’t said much about the allegations, and no charges have been filed.

Many of you don’t want to jump to conclusions.

“Don’t blame the man until he’s proven guilty,” Jerry Reugger said.

“He’s not guilty yet. Why penalize a person until he’s proven guilty?” Kennith Evans added.

Others disagree.

“I think they should have found another person. Someone else who isn’t under the scope of the media right now,” Veronica Edgeston said.

As for Brown, he  said he’s taking the protest to social media, and if needed, will be at the benefit dinne,r too.

“I am asking Bill Cosby to not come, or Freed-Hardeman, I prefer you step up and do the right thing for the Christian community and for all West Tennessee,” Brown said.

The university said it’s received no indication of Cosby canceling, the event is almost sold out, and it’s raising money.

Wednesday, TV Land announced it would stop airing re-runs of The Cosby Show, and NBC shelved plans for a new television show staring Cosby.

Netflix also cancelled a comedy special slated to premiere next week.

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