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Read our latest newsletter: February 2017.

Activists plan theater protest over Bill Cosby shows

Outrage is building and protests are planned for Sunday, when accused sexual predator Bill Cosby takes the stage at The Wilbur Theatre, but the owner of the venue said the shows will go on — even though he’d rather they didn’t.

“Boston is better than this,” said Wellesley attorney and activist Marguer­ite Dorn, who has been on 
social media calling for the stand-up performances to be canceled. “We shouldn’t stand for the perception outside our city that we are willing to host a man accused of such egregious, violent and probably criminal acts.”

Organizers say they expect between 200 and 300 protesters to converge outside The Wilbur on Sunday as a result of a social media campaign and support from several women’s groups in the city. The grass-roots effort, headed by three local activists, has created a Facebook page, United With Survivors, to promote the protest. The group held a sign-making party last Friday at the Boston University Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism.

Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, which is supporting the protest, said the two Sunday shows should have been called off “out of respect for the people who have come forward.”

More than two dozen women have accused the star of the ground-breaking “The Cosby Show” of drugging, sexually assaulting, raping or attempting to sexually 
assault them between 1965 and 2004.

Cosby’s attorney Martin Singer was unavailable for comment last night, but he has denied the allegations in the past. Cosby, while remaining mostly silent on the scandal, made a joke about the charges during a show in Ontario last month. When a woman got up to get a drink, he told her, “You have to be careful about drinking around me.”

“He has not appeared to show any sense of responsibility for the trauma he’s caused,” Scaramella said. “He told a joke about it at one point. He doesn’t seem to understand that his presence under the specter of this volume of accusations is a really difficult thing.”

Theater owner and promoter Bill Blumenreich said he signed a contract to do nine Cosby shows around the country before women started coming forward in November. Blumenreich said Cosby allowed him to cancel seven of the shows — including one in Worcester ­— but insisted on keeping two Boston dates because tickets had sold well.

Most of the tickets for the show were sold before the scandal exploded, Blumenreich said. Four shows had originally been planned for The Wilbur, but once the women began coming forward, ticket sales dried up.

“I’m stuck in the middle of this,” Blumenreich said. “I tried to cancel all the shows, but I had a contract with the guy and, for these two shows, he’s holding me to the contract.”

Blumenreich said he has added extra security for both inside and outside the theater Sunday and that the cost of that, plus poor ticket sales, means he is losing money on Cosby’s appearance.

“I can’t wait for Sunday to be over,” he said. “I’m done with it.”

Toni Troop of Jane Doe Inc. said her organization is troubled by Cosby’s “brazen” attempts to “discredit the victims.”

“We hear very loudly and believe the victims who have come forward to share their story,” she said.

Cosby’s accusers include model Beverly Johnson, who said the comedian drugged her during an audition in 1986. Other high-profile alleged victims include model Janice Dickinson, actresses Michelle Hurd and Louisa Moritz; Carla Ferrigno, wife of “Hulk” actor Lou Ferrigno; two Playboy Playmates; and Cindra Ladd, the wife of former MGM/United Artists CEO Alan Ladd Jr.

Brandie Skorker, one of the organizers of the protest, said Cosby needs to be “held accountable for his sexual violence against women.”


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