DENVER (Reuters) – Bill Cosby thanked hundreds of fans who turned out for shows in Denver on Saturday as a small gathering of protesters outside the theater denounced the comedian, who has been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women in the past three months.
The star of NBC hit 1980s family sitcom “The Cosby Show” denies the allegations, many of which are decades old and fall outside the statute of limitations for criminal or civil cases. His lawyer has called the claims “discredited” and “defamatory.” Cosby has never been charged over any of the allegations. He settled a 2005 civil suit alleging sexual misconduct.
Outside the Buell Theatre in downtown Denver, about 40 protesters chanted “No more jokes!” and some pointed and shouted “Shame on you!” and “Rape supporters!” at ticket holders as they lined up to get in for the first of two shows.
“I came out to be a voice … These victims aren’t coming forward because they’re scared,” said Steevy Griffin, a 28-year-old marketing manager for a technology company in Boulder who waved a homemade placard that read: “We believe the women.”
“We’re here to let them know that we support them,” she said, as a passing motorist honked in support.
Several performances on the 77-year-old Cosby’s stand-up tour have been canceled. In a statement issued by his publicists on Friday, the comic had praised his “courageous” fans who planned to go to Saturday’s shows in Denver.
His performance, for which he wore a gray hoodie with the words “Hello Friend” on the chest, made no mention of the allegations, and instead stuck to less controversial topics such as the dynamics in a long marriage, becoming forgetful in old age, and kids’ birthday parties.
He received a standing ovation at the beginning and end.
“It was an awesome show,” said Teresa James, who attended with her husband. “He’s innocent until proven guilty.”
The comedian, best-known as lovable dad Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show,” has had two television projects shelved and several live gigs canceled since the allegations surfaced.
Celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represents some of the women involved, said in Denver on Saturday that more were coming forward, but that others remained scared.
“You’re talking about someone rich, powerful and famous … they didn’t think they’d be believed,” Allred said.
(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Frances Kerry)