Bill Cosby 'receives standing ovation' from audience in Canada despite protesters and fresh allegations

The comedian got a warm reception in Ontario while protesters stood with placards in sub-zero temperatures

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The Independent Culture

Facing yet more allegations of sexual abuse, and with protesters picketing the venue, Bill Cosby nonetheless received a standing ovation in Canada on Wednesday night, at the end of his first live performance since November.

On a stage backed by two large posters of himself with Nelson Mandela, the 77-year-old comedian told his audience at the Centre in the Square in Kitchener, Ontario, that he had had “a wonderful time”.

On the frigid streets outside the theatre, more than a dozen demonstrators chanted and wielded placards declaring “rape is no joke.” Since November, The Cosby Show star has been accused by more than 15 women – including the supermodels Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson – of sexual assaults dating back to the 1970s. Most of his accusers claim he drugged them before the assaults.

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Protesters outside Bill Cosby's standup gig in Kitchener, Ontario

Three more alleged victims came forward on Wednesday, at a Los Angeles press conference organised by the lawyer Gloria Allred, who introduced two of the women as Linda Kirkpatrick and Lynn Neal, who both claimed they were attacked by the comedian in Las Vegas in the early 1980s. The third woman, named only as “Kacey”, said she had been working as an assistant to Mr Cosby’s late agent, Tom Illius, when the star drugged and sexually assaulted her in 1996.

Ms Allred said the women’s stories were too old to lead to criminal charges, due to the statute of limitations on such cases. Though Mr Cosby has not responded to the new claims, he has denied previous allegations through his lawyers, describing them as “fantastical”.

The Kitchener show was the first of three Canadian dates on Mr Cosby’s “Far From Finished” tour. He was also due to perform in London, Ontario, tonight and tomorrow night in Hamilton. The 2,000-seat theatre was said to be around two-thirds full. A fundraising concert held simultaneously nearby to support facilities for sexual assault victims reportedly raised more than C$7,400 (£4,100).

Mr Cosby last appeared on stage in Florida on 21 November. As the allegations broke, he cancelled 10 tour dates and at least two television appearances. In a statement released after his show on Wednesday, the comedian told fans: “I would like to personally thank you for giving me the opportunity to bring laughter back into your lives tonight.”

Mr Cosby became known as “America’s Dad” during his run as Dr Cliff Huxtable on the smash hit sitcom that bore his name, from 1984 to 1992. Phylicia Rashad, who played his wife on The Cosby Show, spoke out in his defence this week, saying that the claims of historical sexual abuse constituted an “orchestrated” attempt to tear down Mr Cosby’s reputation.

“What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy,” Ms Rashad told the entertainment site Showbiz 411. “And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.” In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, Ms Rashad said she “could never speak” to the veracity of the allegations, but described Mr Cosby as “a genius, he’s generous, he’s kind, he’s inclusive.”

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