Bill Cosby, the subject of more than a dozen sex abuse allegations over the past three months, will go ahead with three Canadian shows this week, coming as more women leveled accusations against the comedian.
Protesters geared up to heckle Cosby and some fans tried to offload their tickets for the three performances in Ontario beginning on Wednesday.
Cosby, best-known as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show, has had two television projects shelved and several standup performances canceled since the allegations started last year.
He is slated to perform shows three cities in Ontario – Kitchener, London and Hamilton – this week.
Demonstrations are planned outside each venue by supporters of sexual abuse survivors. Some people were trying to sell their tickets on social media while others donated them to sexual assault support groups.
Cosby, 77, has never been charged over the allegations, which date as far back as the 1960s. He settled a 2005 civil suit that alleged sexual misconduct.
“We knew him as the warm Dr. Huxtable but the allegations paint a different picture and we can’t really support that,” said Wendy Carmichael, 62, who lost C$300 re-selling her four tickets to Wednesday’s show.
Event promoter Innovation Arts & Entertainment said the venues are contractually obliged to hold the shows, but acknowledged it was an “unpopular” decision and urged protesters not to direct their vitriol at the venues or staff.
In Los Angeles, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, known for her aggressive support of women who claim to be victims of abuse or harassment, held a news conference with three women who allege Cosby drugged them and was sexually aggressive toward them.
One of the women, Lynn Neal, alleges Cosby raped her in his dressing room at the Hilton hotel in Las Vegas where he was performing.
“I was in shock as I had no idea that he would do this to me,” Neal said. “I looked at him as a big brother or fatherly figure that I admired.”
Megan Walker, executive director of the London, Ontario-based Abused Women’s Centre, said she expects several hundred protesters outside Thursday’s show in London.
Cosby’s publicist and attorney did not respond to requests seeking comment.
Cosby Show co-star Phylicia Rashad defended Cosby on Tuesday, telling website Showbiz 411 to “forget these women.”
“What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated,” she said.
(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins and Eric Kelsey; Additional reporting by Reuters TV in Los Angeles; Editing by Mary Milliken and Leslie Adler)