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Kennedy Center rescinds Bill Cosby’s Honors and Twain awards

Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille, at the Kennedy Center in 2009 before the comedian received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
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Bill Cosby’s fall from grace continues.

In a first for the Kennedy Center, the board of trustees voted to rescind the high-profile awards it has given the comedian, who was convicted on three counts of sexual assault last month.

In a statement released Monday, the arts center said that Cosby’s conviction eclipsed his decades-long performance career.

“The Honors and Mark Twain Prize are given to artists who, through their lifetime of work, have left an indelible impact on American culture. As a result of Mr. Cosby’s recent criminal conviction, the Board concluded that his actions have overshadowed the very career accomplishments these distinctions from the Kennedy Center intend to recognize,” the statement said.

Cosby received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1998 for lifetime achievement in the performing arts. In 2009, he was the 12th recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

The nationally televised Kennedy Center Honors were introduced in 1978 and have celebrated the achievements of hundreds of actors, dancers, musicians and other artists. The first Mark Twain Prize was awarded in 1998.

Bill Cosby convicted on three counts of sexual assault

Cosby faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Within hours of the verdict, colleges and universities that had awarded honorary degrees to Cosby began rescinding them. Last week, Cosby and director Roman Polanski were kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group behind the Academy Awards.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has two items related to Cosby on view in its galleries: an “I Spy” comic book and the cover of Cosby’s 1964 album “I Started Out as a Child.” Both will remain on view, according to a spokeswoman. Cosby also appears in a video about stand-up comedians.