Cosby dismisses as 'propaganda' talk of tour to discuss sex assault claims

Andrew Wyatt (right), spokesman for Bill Cosby, speaks to reporters outside the Montgomery County Courthouse as jurors deliberated.

Bill Cosby said Tuesday that reports he planned a tour to teach people to avoid sexual assault accusations were false, deriding such coverage as “propaganda.”

In a statement issued by the same spokesman who last week disclosed plans of such a tour, Cosby said: “The current propaganda that I am going to conduct a sexual assault tour is false. Any further information about public plans will be given at the appropriate time.”

The so-called propaganda came from the mouth of spokesman Andrew Wyatt during a television interview in Alabama last week, days after Cosby’s prosecution in Montgomery County ended in a mistrial. After releasing the two-sentence statement Tuesday, Wyatt did not return calls or messages seeking details.

But his statement came after one of Cosby’s lawyers told reporters she “can’t imagine” the 79-year-old entertainer would be speaking publicly this summer, especially as he faces a retrial in Norristown.

“He doesn’t take lightly these criminal charges,” attorney Angela Agrusa said after a hearing related to a sex-abuse lawsuit filed against him in Los Angeles, the Associated Press reported. “He would never do anything that undermined the importance of this issue. I don’t see him speaking publicly like that.”

The promise of a tour marked the latest contradictory or untrue statement from Wyatt. The outspoken spokesman was scolded by Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill during jury deliberations in Cosby’s sexual-assault trial for declaring victory while deliberations were still ongoing. He also called the trial unfair before it was over, and was seen arguing with Cosby’s lawyers over giving public remarks when it ended in mistrial.

During the appearance on the Birmingham, Ala., station last week, Wyatt said Cosby would begin a town hall tour next month about sexual assault.

“This is bigger than Bill Cosby,” Wyatt told WBRC-TV on Wednesday. “You know, this issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today. And they need to know what they’re facing when they are hanging out and partying, when they are doing certain things that they shouldn’t be doing. And it also affects, you know, married men.”

Wyatt’s colleague Ebonee Benson, who was also present for the television interview, added to the explanation.

“The statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault are being extended,” Benson said. “So, this is why people need to be educated on a brush against the shoulder. You know, anything at this point can be considered sexual assault.”

And later that day, a tweet from Cosby’s official Twitter account thanked the station for having Wyatt and Benson on.

It was shocking news, especially as Cosby faces ongoing lawsuits from other women and a retrial on charges of aggravated indecent assault.

The news went viral, and it was denounced by groups that support sex assault victims and some of the more than 60 women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct.

By Sunday, Benson and Wyatt were denying that the tour was about sex assault. In a CNN interview, Benson blamed “sensationalism brought on by the media” for spreading false information.

“The town hall meetings are not about sexual assault,” Benson said on CNN. “I will repeat. These town hall meetings are not about sexual assault.”

Christi Paul and Victor Blackwell, hosts of CNN’s New Day, replayed a clip from the Birmingham station and emphasized that the news was “not a media narrative.”

It remained unclear Tuesday whether Cosby still plans to make public appearances this summer. A retrial date has not yet been set.