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Occidental College is the latest to revoke Cosby honorary degree

Occidental College is the latest to revoke Cosby honorary degree
Bill Cosby at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Occidental College in Los Angeles has become the latest university to revoke an honorary degree awarded to Bill Cosby following allegations of sexual misconduct.

The executive committee of the Board of Trustees voted last week to revoke the degree granted to Cosby in 1992, according to an email sent to the campus community.

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Under board policy, a degree is revoked only in "exceptionally unusual circumstances such as conduct that brings the integrity of degree recipient into significant disrepute ... and when the failure to revoke would have a material and deleterious effect on the well-being of the college community or core college values," the statement said.

"Based on Mr. Cosby's own words and actions, we believe this is such a case," it said.

Cosby's is the first honorary degree believed to have ever been revoked at Occidental, said spokesman Jim Tranquada. The liberal arts institution has awarded about 400 honorary degrees since 1909, he said.

Occidental is the latest university to strip Cosby of honors as more than 50 women have come forward to allege that the actor and comedian drugged or sexually assaulted them in past decades.

Last month, California State University revoked an an honorary doctorate awarded to Cosby in 1992 by Cal Poly Pomona. On Monday, Boston University revoked an honorary doctorate it awarded in 2014.

Cosby has denied sexually assaulting women and has not been charged with a crime. On Monday, he filed a counter-suit against seven women who are suing him for defamation, accusing them of making false accusations for financial gain.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Cosby's attorney Monique Pressley said that his accusers' "multi-decade old, false, uncorroborated, opportunistic allegations of sexual assault have caused and continue to cause him substantial injuries and damages to reputation, business contracts, shame, mortification, damages to property, business, trade, profession and occupation."

Occidental College recently has been the site of protests by students who staged a sit-in at the campus administrative center, demanding that the Eagle Rock campus do more to address racism and diversity issues and that President Jonathan Veitch step down.

Veitch did not resign but did agree to several student demands, including diversifying the faculty, creating a black studies program and training campus staff on minority students' needs.

In 2013, Occidental reached a monetary settlement with at least 10 current and former students who were part of a federal complaint that accused officials of repeatedly mishandling allegations of sexual assault.

Twitter: @carlariveralat

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