Celebrity Gossip

Bill Cosby gets another standing ovation as he performs for the first time in the United States since latest wave of rape allegations – and only one woman comes out to protest

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  • Bill Cosby performed for the first time in the United States since the recent wave of rape allegations
  • The crowd in Florida gave him a standing ovation, much like they did the night before in the Bahamas 
  • He again did not speak about the allegations at any point#
  • Also on Friday, law & order: SVU star Michelle Hurd came forward to claim he acted inappropriately towards her when she worked on The Cosby Show
  • This as Cosby’s lawyer is calling the growing number of allegations against the actor ‘increasingly ridiculous’ and ‘completely illogical’

MELBOURNE, Fla. — The uproar over allegations that Bill Cosby had molested or assaulted several women, in some cases years ago, was almost nowhere in evidence on Friday night during a sold-out performance by the 77-year-old comedian on a college campus here.

Despite exhortations by a local radio station — and an offer of money to anyone who had the nerve — no one stood up during Mr. Cosby’s 90-minute appearance on the campus of Eastern Florida State College to demand an explanation from him about the women’s accusations, something he has studiously avoided doing since the controversy arose.

Instead, Mr. Cosby — who did not address the issues from the stage — was greeted with a standing ovation and sent offstage with a second ​one at the end of his show.

Outside the theater, however, three protesters held signs criticizing “victim shaming,” while another sign said, “Rape is no joke.” The protesters were kept more than ​2​00 yards ​from the theater and next to a main road, on orders from the police.

Earlier on Friday, three women — Renita Chaney Hill, Angela Leslie and Kristina Ruehli — were the latest to publicly detail their experiences with Mr. Cosby, all telling similar stories of being given drugs or alcohol before being sexually assaulted.

And in an interview on WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fla., another woman, Therese Serignese, 57, a registered nurse, has accused Mr. Cosby of drugging and having sex with her after one of his shows at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1976 when she was 19.

Bill Cosby

Mr. Cosby’s lawyers have routinely characterized such allegations as unfounded.

Amid the drumbeat of accusations, NBC on Wednesday said it was canceling a Cosby pilot project, and the cable network TV Land quietly stopped showing repeats of “The Cosby Show.”

Less than 24 hours earlier, Netflix said it was postponing the debut of a comedy special. Other scheduled appearances by Mr. Cosby — on David Letterman’s late-night show and Queen Latifah’s daytime talk show — have also been canceled.

In addition, two more shows on Mr. Cosby’s stand-up comedy tour were canceled: one at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and another at the Virginia Theater in Champaign, Ill. More than 30 performances remain on a schedule that runs well into next spring.

Campus officials here had braced themselves for trouble. By midafternoon, four police cars were parked at the entrance to the 2,016-seat Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts, and members of the audience were advised before Mr. Cosby took the stage that there “may be attempts to disrupt tonight’s performance.”

“If a disruption occurs,” the announcer went on, “please keep calm and do not confront the person making the disruption.”

None occurred, and the comedian, seated for most of the show, calmly proceeded through a jovial routine that hewed closely to themes of family foibles.

Mr. Cosby broke his silence on the matter in an interview Friday with the newspaper Florida Today, saying that a radio station’s offers of cash and prizes to interrupt his performance had merely fostered a “frat house mentality.”

“Now suppose someone brings a weapon or decided to do more foolishness,” Mr. Cosby said.

“I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos,” he told Florida Today. “People should fact check. People shouldn’t have to go through that and shouldn’t answer to innuendos.”

Audience members here were almost uniformly supportive of the veteran comedian, although officials at the theater said some ticket holders — they would not divulge the number — ​had demanded refunds. There appeared to be at least two dozen empty seats in the auditorium.

In interviews before the performance, the overriding theme of the comments was that nothing had been proved against Mr. Cosby and that the women who had come forward must be doing so solely for financial gain.

“I bet if he gave every one of them $2 million, they’d never say a word again,” Marc Linden, a 65-year-old former elementary schoolteacher, said as he took photographs of the television satellite trucks on Post Road. “They just want the money. If all this was true, these women would have come out a long time ago.”

A lawyer for Mr. Cosby, Martin Singer, told the entertainment trade paper Variety recently that the women’s claims were “fabricated or unsubstantiated.”

The demonstrators here, however, saw it differently.

“The backlash against these women who have come forward has really bothered me,” said Tamara Allredge, a 46-year-old hairdresser from Orlando who previously worked as a counselor to rape victims. “I believe in innocent until proven guilty, but it goes both ways.

“These women are brave. They have a right to be listened to.”

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