Bill Cosby is again under intense scrutiny for past allegations of sexual assault following a weekend radio broadcast in which the famous television father silently refused to address the issue.
The growing controversy, which has been gathering force on social media for weeks, could jeopardize a new NBC series starring the 77-year-old comedian that has been in development for months.
The former star of “The Cosby Show” was asked about the accusations of sexual assault during a National Public Radio segment that was taped earlier in the week and aired Saturday.
“This question gives me no pleasure, Mr. Cosby, but there have been serious allegations raised about you in recent days,” NPR reporter Scott Simon said.
Cosby, there with his wife, Camille, for an interview about the couple’s loan of about 60 pieces of African American art for an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, did not reply.
“You’re shaking your head no. I’m in the news business. I have to ask the question. Do you have any response to those charges?”
Again, Cosby said nothing.
“There are people who love you who might like to hear from you about this,” Simon said. “I want to give you the chance.”
After being met again with silence, Simon moved on, thanking the couple for the interview.
Cosby could not be reached for comment. Officials with NBC reached on Saturday would not comment on the allegations, but did confirm that a series with Cosby as the patriarch of a multi-generational family was “still in very early development.”
The questions follow a first-person article written by Barbara Bowman that ran Thursday in the Washington Post. In the article, Bowman wrote when she was a 17-year-old aspiring actress, she was drugged and raped by Cosby, who then had one of the most popular shows on television.
Through the years, Cosby, facing other similar allegations, has steadfastly denied them all. In 2006, the comedian settled a civil lawsuit for an undisclosed amount that alleged similar charges.
The accusations returned to the spotlight last month after a routine by stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress made fun of Cosby’s fatherly image in light of the allegations of sexual misconduct. The remarks went viral.
Earlier this week, Cosby’s website put up comic pictures of the performer and asked users to submit captions. The stunt backfired, with many posting messages that accused him of being a rapist.
Amid the social media fire, an appearance by Cosby slated for next Wednesday on the “Late Show With David Letterman” was canceled. News reports said officials from the show confirmed the cancellation, but did not specify who initiated the action.
Another planned appearance on “The Queen Latifah Show” a few weeks ago was also canceled. A spokesperson for that show said it was Cosby’s decision.
A script has not yet been written for the proposed NBC comedy, which would return the performer to the network where his sitcom "The Cosby Show" aired for eight seasons during the 1980s and 1990s and cemented Cosby’s stature as a beloved pop culture figure.
Cosby’s last major TV project was “Bill Cosby: Far From Finished," a standup special that premiered on Comedy Central in November. He is also scheduled to star in a standup special for Netflix later this month.