US & Canada

Bill Cosby tour 'not about sex assault'

Andrew Wyatt, spokesperson of Bill Cosby, speaks to media as they exit the courthouse at the Montgomery County Courthouse on June 17, 2017 Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Bill Cosby (C) outside court with spokespeople Andrew Wyatt and Ebonee Benson

Bill Cosby's publicity team have denied reports that his upcoming speaking tour is to educate young people about sexual assault allegations.

A publicist told CNN the focus was on restoring the comic's legacy.

Mr Cosby narrowly escaped a prison sentence this month when a sexual assault trial against him ended in a hung jury.

The comic's team had previously said that young people need to know the law around assault.

But on Sunday publicist Ebonee Benson told CNN the media was guilty of "sensationalism" over the allegations, and the tour.

"The town hall meetings are not about sexual assault. I will repeat. These town hall meetings are not about sexual assault," she said.

Prosecutors plan to retry the case against the former star of The Cosby Show in about four months.

Another spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, had previously told WBRC-TV's Good Day Alabama that the comedian would begin his summer motivational speaking tour in Alabama as early as July.

"This is bigger than Bill Cosby," Mr Wyatt said on 22 June, adding "this issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today".

"They need to know what they're facing when they're hanging out and partying, when they're doing certain things that they shouldn't be doing," he told the interviewer.

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Media captionThe Cosby Show guest star Lili Bernard: Cosby is "a lying coward"

Ms Benson, who also appeared on the programme, noted that the statute of limitations on sexual assault accusations was being lengthened, allowing accusers more time to come forward.

"This is why people need to be educated on - you know, a brush on the shoulder - you know, anything at this point can be considered sexual assault and it's a good thing to be educated about the laws," she said.

Mr Cosby was planning a comeback comedy tour before charges were filed against him in December 2015.

He was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, inside his home near Philadelphia in 2004.

At least 50 other women came forward with similar claims, but those alleged assaults happened too long ago for prosecutors to file charges.

Mr Cosby's comedy tour was cancelled, along with a Netflix stand-up special.

He has also had several honorary degrees and an award from the US Navy revoked.

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