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Bill Cosby Loses His Honorary George Washington University Degree

by Antoinette Bueno 1:26 PM PST, January 11, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

Bill Cosby's reputation is facing another big setback.

George Washington University says it will rescind the honorary degree the school gave Cosby in 2007, in response to the allegations of sexual assault facing the 78-year-old comedian. Initially, the university said in October that it would not take back the degree, since honorary degrees are conferred in a "moment in time, based on what the university knows about the honoree at that time."

GWU president Steven Knapp explained the change of heart in a letter to students on Monday.

WATCH: Bill Cosby Breaks Silence Following Sexual Assault Charge

"What has particularly moved and impressed me has been the argument that, whatever may ultimately be determined about the guilt or innocence of Mr. Cosby in a court of law, the controversy itself has become a cause of renewed distress for our students and alumni who are survivors of sexual assault," Knapp wrote. "That makes this case different, in my considered judgment, from other cases in which the assessment of a degree candidate might be altered by subsequent information or events. I have therefore decided that the university will rescind Mr. Cosby’s honorary degree."

Knapp also cited the university's involvement in President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden "It's on Us" campaign -- launched in September 2014 -- which calls on everyone to take personal responsibility for preventing sexual assault on America’s campuses.

"This action by itself will not end the scourge of sexual assault on this or any other campus," Knapp wrote about the decision to rescind Cosby's degree. "We will need to continue working as a community in the spirit of the 'It’s on Us' campaign."

Aside from George Washington University, several schools have already revoked honorary degrees awarded to Cosby, including Brown University, Tufts University, Lehigh University, Fordham University, Goucher College, and Marquette University.

Last month, Cosby was formally arraigned on one charge of aggravated indecent assault. He's being accused of drugging and violating former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his mansion in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania in January 2004.

This marks the first criminal charge brought against Cosby after more than 50 women have accused him of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them. Throughout the accusations, he has maintained his innocence and has denied all wrongdoing.

Cosby's attorneys gave a statement to ET last month, saying, "The charge by the Montgomery County District Attorney's office came as no surprise, filed 12 years after the alleged incident and coming on the heels of a hotly contested election for this county's DA during which this case was made the focal point. Make no mistake, we intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge and we expect that Mr. Cosby will be exonerated by a court of law."

WATCH: Camille Cosby's Deposition Is Delayed

Last Monday, Whoopi Goldberg -- who had previously defended Cosby against the allegations, but appeared to change her tune in July -- said on The View that she was "glad" to see legal action being taken.

"Look, I'm glad it's happening," Goldberg said of the latest legal development. "I sorta feel like, whenever you have people saying, 'This is what happened, this is what happened, this is what happened,' I want the court. I want to hear it. ... I want everybody to be able to ask the questions. We've heard a lot, but we have not heard anything from his side."

Watch below:

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