Hamilton’s Woman Abuse Working Group is telling the public to denounce Bill Cosby’s upcoming Hamilton show and is planning to protest if it goes ahead.
The 77-year-old has been under fire in recent weeks as a total of 19 women have accused him of sexual abuse. Actress and model Beverly Johnson was the latest to come forward this week and allege that Cosby had drugged her decades ago.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
In a press release, the Hamilton Woman Abuse Working Group (WAWG) says it is “deeply concerned” that Cosby’s performance is still going ahead as scheduled in the midst of such serious public allegations of sexual violence.
“We question the support of alleged rapists and are especially concerned about the message this sends to survivors of abuse and violence – that celebrity and entertainment are more important than taking a strong stand on violence against women,” the news release reads.
WAWG represents a host of Hamilton organizations, including the Catholic Children’s Aid Society, the Immigrant Women’s Centre, the Women’s Centre of Hamilton and the local Sexual Assault Centre. The collective says it has contacted Global Spectrum about Cosby’s Jan. 9 performance, but were told it had to go ahead because of “contractual obligations.”
“While we understand this, it appears that other communities have been able to cancel performances,” WAWG wrote.
Other shows cancelled
Promoters of some of the 77-year-old’s shows – like one in Washington State on Nov. 29 and another at a casino in Connecticut on Jan. 31 – postponed performances “indefinitely.”
Five other dates in 2015 have also been cancelled – but the show’s promoter says there are no plans to cancel his Hamilton date. “Yes, it is [going ahead],” said a woman who answered the phone last month at Innovation Arts & Entertainment, based in Chicago.
“Other than that, we don’t have anything else to say,” she said, before quickly hanging up.
Scott Warren, the general manager of FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton Place and the Molson Canadian Studio, echoed that statement.
"As I’ve indicated previously, the venue is not in a position to cancel the show as we have a legally-binding contract with the promoter," he said. "Cancelling the show would be a breach of contract and open us up to potential litigation."
WAWG is asking the public to petition Global Spectrum to cancel the show. If the event isn’t cancelled, the organization plans to protest outside Hamilton Place.
“We would like to emphasize that at the gathering we will not tolerate any behavior that is oppressive, rather we hope this is an opportunity for everyone to support all victims of violence,” the organization wrote.
Cosby will not 'dignify' claims: lawyer
Through his lawyer, Cosby has said he will not dignify "decade-old, discredited" claims of sexual abuse with a response.
In a statement released to The Associated Press and posted online, lawyer John P. Schmitt said the fact that the allegations are being repeated "does not make them true."
"He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work," Schmitt said.
NBC confirmed earlier this week that it was scrapping a deal with Cosby to do a sitcom that was under development, TV Land is pulling reruns of The Cosby Show and Netflix has nixed a special it was set to air next week called Bill Cosby at 77.