Bill Cosby: Don Lemon apologises for suggesting accuser could have prevented alleged rape by claiming he was once a victim of sexual assault

The CNN anchor said he did not intend to appear 'insensitive'

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A US news anchor has apologised for telling one of the alleged victims of Bill Cosby that “there are ways” to stop a sexual assault from happening - and claimed that he is a “victim” himself.

CNN broadcaster Don Lemon told Joan Tarshis, who claims Cosby raped her when she was 19, that “there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it”.

Tarshis, a former actress, music industry publicist and journalist, has claimed she was raped twice by the comedian and actor in 1969.

She has alleged that she initially attempted to ward him off by saying she had an infection that he would catch and pass on to his wife if he had sex with her. He then allegedly made her perform oral sex.

In the interview Lemon, who said he didn’t mean to be “crude”, suggested that Tarshis could have used her teeth as “a weapon” against Cosby.

He said:  “You - you know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it.”

To which Tarshis replied: “Oh. Um, I was kind of stoned at the time, and quite honestly, that didn’t even enter my mind. Now I wish it would have”.

Tarshis said that she didn’t go to the police because she didn’t think anyone would believe her.


Reacting to the interview on social media, a number of Twitter users criticised Lemon for his approach.

One user tweeted: “Don Lemon is the very last person on earth to think rape has to involve overwhelming physical force. And someone lets him say things on TV.”

And another sarcastically asked: “Has Don Lemon ever asked someone that's been shot if they tried to duck?”

Speaking live on air yesterday, Lemon said: “As I am a victim myself I would never want suggest that any victim could have prevented a rape.

“If my question to her struck anyone as insensitive I am sorry as that is certainly and was not my intention.”

This week supermodel Janice Dickinson became the latest in a string of women to accuse Cosby of sexual assault.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Ms Dickinson, 59, alleged that Cosby had drugged and raped her in 1982, after he invited her to visit him at a hotel in Lake Tahoe, California, where he was performing a stand-up show.

In October, Barbara Bowman claimed that Cosby drugged and raped her when she was a teenager in 1985, when she was then an aspiring actress.

Bowman was one of 13 women called to take to the witness stand in 2006 when Andrea Constand claimed that Cosby had drugged and assaulted her in his Philadelphia mansion in 2004.

The allegations were firmly denied by Cosby’s lawyers. In 2006, he settled the case with Constand. The terms of the settlement remain undisclosed.


At the weekend the actor’s lawyer said that he will not be commenting on the “decade-old discredited” allegations.

“The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true,” read a statement on Cosby’s website.

“Mr Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. 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.

There will be no further statement from Mr Cosby or any of his representatives.”

Yesterday Cosby also denied allegations that he raped Dickinson. His attorney Marty Singer branded Dickinson’s claims a “complete lie”.

He said: "The only story she [Dickinson] gave 12 years ago in her autobiography, as well as her interviews with the media, was that she refused to sleep with Mr Cosby and he blew her off."