Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Theodore A. McKee couldn't stop thinking about it this morning: mounting rape allegations against Bill Cosby, who, like McKee, sits on Temple University's board of trustees.
As a state-related university - currently under investigation by the federal education department for its handling of sexual assault and harassment cases - what stance should Temple take in regards to Cosby, a longtime trustee and fixture on the North Philadelphia campus?
"It's one thing to say it's a public university and we have an obligation to maintain an appearance that does not undermine the seriousness of the charges," said McKee, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. "We also have an obligation to not act in a way which is unfair in the sense that we do not afford people the due process that they might be entitled in terms of a fair airing of the details."
Ultimately, McKee said, he would be reluctant to take any steps against Cosby's status on the university board absent any charges or convictions.
"I personally do not have enough information to conclude that a decision to change things would be appropriate," he said.
Sexual-assault allegations from several accusers against the actor-comedian have resurfaced in recent weeks and have gotten new life via social media.
On Wednesday, NBC canceled a proposed family-oriented Cosby sitcom, and Netflix this week pulled back from a Cosby special that had been scheduled to premiere on Thanksgiving.
Leonard Barrack, a Philadelphia lawyer and another member of Temple's 30-plus-member board of trustees, said he would vote to keep Cosby on the board if it came to that.
"Cosby has been a long-serving, loyal, and very enthusiastic trustee over many years," Barrack said. "They are just allegations. There's nothing proven. There are no charges made."
But not everyone thinks the trustees should wait for potential court action to weigh in. "Given the very disturbing history of women who have been sexually assaulted having their credibility doubted and given how many women have come forward [to accuse Cosby] both in the past and now, I think the board of trustees should think hard about Mr. Cosby's status . . . and not wait on the courts to have that discussion," said Steve Newman, an associate professor of English and acting president of the faculty union.
Board of trustees chairman Patrick O'Connor could not be reached for comment Thursday.
University spokesman Ray Betzner said Cosby continues to serve on the board - he was reappointed in October - but declined to comment further.
The issue has stirred concern on the 37,000-student campus, acknowledged Raymond Smeriglio, Temple's student body president.
"I have had a good number of students come to me asking what this is all about," he said, and expressing concern about the "reputation their school might get with this connection."
Smeriglio, a senior strategic communications major from Harrisburg, said he was unsure what steps the university should take.
Through his attorneys, Cosby denied the allegations in 2005 - the Philadelphia lawsuit filed against him by one accuser, former Temple employee Andrea Constand, was settled out of court - and he did so again this week.
The 77-year-old Philadelphia native has refused in interviews to answer any questions about the women.