TORONTO - Embattled comedian Bill Cosby promised his Canadian fans "the show of their life'' Tuesday as he urged them not to get involved if protesters disrupt any of the performances he has planned in Ontario this week.
Cosby's international tour rolls on despite growing allegations of sexual assault against the veteran TV star, with scheduled stops in Kitchener on Wednesday night, London on Thursday and Hamilton on Friday. Protests are being organized outside the Cosby shows in each city.
"Dear Patrons: we have been advised that there may be attempts to disrupt tonight's performance,'' said the statement issued by Purpose PR Firm on behalf of Cosby. "If a disruption occurs, please remain calm until the matter is resolved and do not confront the person making the disruption.''
The 77-year-old comedian has had to cancel or postpone at least 10 shows on his current tour because of the growing number of women who have come forward to claim he drugged and sexually assaulted them, but the three in Ontario this week will go ahead as scheduled.
"I'm going to give my fans the show of their life,'' Cosby added in his statement.
Earlier on Tuesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne said she would not attend any of Cosby's shows in Ontario because of the "very serious'' allegations of sexual assault the comedian is facing.
"Until those are sorted out I certainly would not go to a performance,'' Wynne told reporters.
Since November, at least 15 women have come forward with claims Cosby sexually assaulted them decades ago — with some saying he drugged them before he assaulted them.
Cosby, who starred as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show'' from 1984 to 1992, has never been criminally charged in connection with any of the allegations, and through his lawyer he has denied them.
The Ontario venues where Cosby will perform say they have contractual obligations to allow the shows to continue. One venue — Kitchener's Centre In The Square — addressed residents' anger directly.
"While we may personally share concerns raised by the community, if The Centre forces a cancellation of this rental show it isn't simply a situation of giving back the rent,'' it said in a blog post, noting that it would also need to pay any "guarantee fee'' to Cosby, compensate the promoter for box office losses and show expenses, and refund patrons.
A Kitchener group called Voices Carry has organized an alternative event to raise awareness of sexual assault at the same time as Cosby's show in the city.
"It's up to them to decide whether they want to go see Bill Cosby or not,'' said Kitchener Progressive Conservative Michael Harris. "But alternatively they can take their tickets to a pub in downtown Kitchener to support (initiatives against) domestic violence and Voices Carry.''
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