LOS ANGELES - Bill Cosby's wife lashed out Monday at media reporting on sex abuse claims against the veteran comic, saying he was the victim of unfounded accusations and was "a wonderful husband."
Camille Cosby compared the coverage of her husband to last week's Rolling Stone story about alleged rape at the University of Virginia, for which the magazine later apologised.
"The man I met, and fell in love with... is the man you all knew through his work. He is a kind man, a generous man, a funny man, and a wonderful husband, father and friend. He is the man you thought you knew," she said.
"A different man has been portrayed in the media over the last two months. It is the portrait of a man I do not know. It is also a portrait painted by individuals and organisations whom many in the media have given a pass."
More than 20 women have accused Cosby, 77, one of the most popular faces on US television, of sexual assault and rape, most dating from decades ago.
Most 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.
"There appears to be no vetting of my husband's accusers before stories are published or aired. An accusation is published, and immediately goes viral," wife Camille said in a statement widely cited by US media.
She referred to Rolling Stone, which last week all but retracted a story about a gang rape, saying it was wrong to have trusted without question the alleged victim's version of what happened.
"The story was heartbreaking, but ultimately appears to be proved to be untrue," she said, adding: "None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim. But the question should be asked -- who is the victim?"
Cosby breaks silence
In the wake of the renewed allegations, Cosby has cancelled public appearances and stepped down from his board of directors post at Temple University.
Cosby broke his silence Sunday, urging US media to remain "neutral" in covering the scandal. His cryptic comments were notably directed 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.
The Post wrote that Cosby 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.
"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," he told the newspaper.
Last week black supermodel Beverly Johnson became the latest to come forward with accusations. Johnson, 62, made her claims in a first-person story published in Vanity Fair titled "Bill Cosby Drugged Me. This Is My Story."
Johnson, the first black woman to appear on the cover of the fashion magazine Vogue in the US in 1974, claimed she was drugged by Cosby and resisted his advances.
Unlike other accusers who have come forward, the model does not make explicit sexual assault allegations against Cosby.