US President Barack Obama has said he rejects the idea of revoking comedian Bill Cosby's Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The President waded into the discussion about the scandal-hit entertainer, who is facing allegations of serious sexual misconduct. Over forty women, including former models Janice Dickinson and Beverley Johnson, have come forward claiming they were drugged and raped by Cosby.
Responding to questions about the claims made against the comedian, at a news conference Mr Obama said: "There's no precedent for revoking a medal. We don't have that mechanism."
While he declined to address the specific allegations against Cosby, the President vehemently condemned the act of rape.
"If you give a woman, or a man, for that matter, without his or her knowledge a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that's rape. And I think this country, any civilised country, should have no tolerance for rape," he said.
Cosby was award the medal at the White House in 2002 by former President George W Bush.
The entertainer, who is best known for his hit sitcom The Cosby Show, in which he played Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, has never been criminally charged.
However, recent revelations that the 77-year-old once admitted under oath to using the sedative Quaalude to drug at least one woman he wanted to have sex with, have sparked calls for an investigation into the actor.
Some supporters of the star had questioned the testimony of the accusers including Dickinson, who Cosby accused of fabricating her version of events.
In November of last year, Dickinson alleged that in the 1970s, the entertainer used the promise of advancing her career to lure her to a hotel room, before allegedly drugging and raping her. She claimed that that she blacked out after Cosby gave her a pill with wine. She describes how when she woke up, her pyjamas had been removed and there was semen between her legs.
"The last thing I remember was Bill Cosby in a patchwork robe, dropping his robe and getting on top of me. And I remember a lot of pain," she said.
The former supermodel is now suing the TV star for defamation of character.
The revelations in the 2005 lawsuit, which was settled for an undisclosed amount, have further swayed public opinion against Cosby
According to ABC News, many of the women who have accused Cosby of assault said the release of the court document last month (June) was a relief. "After all these years I'm validated," Joan Tarnish told CNN.
Beverly Johnson, one of the women who accused Cosby of drugging her in the 1980s, told ABC News she is "very happy" that women have come forward against Cosby. "I see that a lot of them are relieved and feel vindicated," Johnson said. "Perhaps maybe we can now all start a healing process."
In the face of the allegations, his wife Camille Cosby has however, stood by her husband. The NY Post reported that Camille acknowledges her husband is a cheater, but refuses to admit he is a rapist.
She claims his accusers consented to both the drugs and the sex.
The Los Angeles Police Department revealed that it was launching an investigation into the historic allegations of sexual abuse by Cosby, including those with expired statue of limitations.
"The LAPD will always investigate all reports of crimes regardless of the statute of limitations for when the incident occurred," the police department told The Guardian.