President Barack Obama is rejecting the idea of revoking Bill Cosby's Presidential Medal of Freedom because of sexual misconduct allegations.
Obama was asked Wednesday during a presidential news conference mostly devoted to the Iranian nuclear deal about whether he would revoke Cosby's honor.
"There's no precedent for revoking a medal," Obama said. "We don't have that mechanism."
Obama declined to talk about the specific allegations against Cosby because there are pending legal matters. But Obama left no question about his thinking on the larger issue of drugs, consent and rape.
"If you give a woman, or a man, for that matter, without his or her knowledge a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that's rape," he said.
Obama added that any civilized nation "should have no tolerance for rape."
More than two dozen women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct in the past four decades, and many of them alleged that he drugged them before sex.
The 77-year-old comedian, who has never been charged with a crime, has denied some accusations while declining to comment or respond to others.
Court documents obtained by The Associated Press have revealed that Cosby admitted under oath that he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex. The documents weren't clear on whether the women consented to being drugged.
President George W. Bush awarded Cosby the nation's highest civilian honor in 2002.
As of Wednesday, more than 10,600 people had signed a petition posted on the White House's "We the People" website to revoke the medal.