PHILADELPHIA (Christian Examiner) -- Comedian Bill Cosby has resigned from the board of trustees of Temple University, his alma mater said in a statement on Monday, after the entertainer was hit with a wave of sexual assault accusations. More than a dozen women have come forward in the past month with accusations that Cosby, 77, sexually assaulted them as far back as 1969.
Cosby, known internationally as the educated and moral head of television's Huxtable family, previously has been very open about his faith in God and his Christian upbringing. He used his position as one of the biggest stars on television to encourage young people, particularly in underprivileged African-American communities, to get out of poverty by earning an education. His high profile stands about education and character issues make the accusations of his immoral behavior even more shocking.
Patrick O'Connor, chairman of the Philadelphia university's board of trustees, said Cosby called him on Monday to resign.
"He didn't want his personal issue to detract from his service to Temple," O'Connor said in a phone interview. "He was a great trustee. I thanked him for his service."
In a statement released by the university Monday, Cosby said: "I have always been proud of my association with Temple University. I have always wanted to do what would be in the best interests of the university and its students."
Cosby discovered his gift for comedy at Temple, and it led to a successful career in stand-up and groundbreaking roles for an African-American actor in television series such as "I Spy" and "The Cosby Show."
O'Connor represented Cosby in a 2005 lawsuit brought by a Temple employee Andrea Constand and 11 other anonymous accusers who claimed the comedian sexually assaulted them. The case ended with a confidential settlement, though many of those women have since come forward publicly.
Temple has a long association with Cosby, who attended in 1961-1962 and earned his bachelor's degree in 1971. The university has not disclosed how much money Cosby has given the school. His family funds two small scholarships at Temple, which has some 38,000 students.
After weeks of silence, Cosby has started to speak out, but he has not addressed the specifics of any allegations.
"I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn't have to answer to innuendos. People should fact check. People shouldn't have to go through that and shouldn't answer to innuendos," he told Florida Today.
Cosby's attorney, Marty Singer, also slammed the "decades-old discredited allegations," saying his client's accusers are after money.
"There has never been a shortage of lawyers willing to represent people with claims against rich, powerful men, so it makes no sense that not one of these new women who just came forward for the first time now ever asserted a legal claim back at the time they allege they had been sexually assaulted," said Singer.
Reuters contributed to this report