Actor Bill Cosby talks to reporters at the grand opening of Ben's Chili Bowl's second location on March 6, 2014, in Arlington, Va. The sexual awareness and education group Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment is asking President Obama to revoke Bill Cosby's Presidential Medal of Freedom. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- A national sexual awareness and education group asked President Obama to rescind Bill Cosby's Presidential Medal of Freedom after ongoing allegations the comedian sexually assaulted women.
The group, Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment (PAVE), called on Obama to revoke the highest civilian award in the United States, which was given to Cosby by former President George W. Bush in 2002.
The request puts the White House, long a champion of sexual-assault prevention, in a bind, both legally and politically. No president has ever revoked the award.
"Certainly it would be an unprecedented event to take this away," said PAVE founder Angela Rose. "But it's also an unprecedented moment in our nation's history that such an iconic figure, a legend, be accused by 40 women of sexual violence."
PAVE submitted a petition to the White House on Wednesday after 2005 court documents revealed Cosby, 77, gave quaaludes, a sedative, to women with whom he wanted to have sex. Multiple women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct over the years. Cosby denies the allegations and has never gone to court over any of them.
The petition needs 100,000 electronic signatures by Aug. 7 to get a formal response from the White House. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he was unaware of the movement.
"I haven't, at this point, heard any discussion of taking that step," he said. "I don't know whether or not it's legally possible to do so."