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New York (AFP) — Comedian Bill Cosby, who has stayed mum on allegations of having drugged and sexually assaulted numerous women, in cryptic comments urged U.S. media to remain “neutral” in its reporting on the scandal, news reports said Sunday.

His comments were directed in particular at America’s black media, with which he has had a hot-and-cold relationship over the years.

“Let me say this. I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind,” Cosby reportedly told the New York Post newspaper when reached by telephone Friday at his Massachusetts home.

The Post wrote that Cosby, 77, also said his wife was sticking by his side, despite the growing number of women claiming that The Cosby Show star had drugged and raped them.

The veteran actor, described by the Post as sounding “upbeat,” said he had been advised by his lawyers against talking with reporters about the allegations.

Cosby is a beloved icon and long was seen as a role model for millions of Americans.

But his relations at times have been strained among U.S. blacks, because of remarks a decade ago — deemed by some in the community as unduly harsh — in which he criticized the values of African American youth.

In his comments to the Post, the actor praised his wife of half a century, Camille, for her support amid the current controversy.

“Love and the strength of womanhood,” he said. “Let me say it again, love and the strength of womanhood. And, you could reverse it, the strength of womanhood and love.”

Most of the sex assault claims from more than 20 women date from decades ago.

Almost all of the allegations fall outside the statute of limitations for criminal charges.

But one woman, former Playboy hostess Judy Huth, filed a sexual assault lawsuit in Los Angeles against the Emmy and Golden Globe winner.

In the midst of the scandal, Cosby has cancelled public appearances and stepped down from his board of directors post at Temple University.

Last week, trailblazing black supermodel Beverly Johnson claimed she was drugged by Cosby and resisted his advances.

Unlike other accusers who have come forward, the model did not make explicit sexual assault allegations against Cosby.

Photo: AFP/Timothy A. Clary

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