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Cosby's accusers face sexist double standard - Jay Leno

US TV host Jay Leno has said dozens of women who accuse veteran comedian Bill Cosby of sexually abusing them have endured sexist and unfair criticism.

"I keep reading the comments, 'liars', and 'why didn't they come forward before?'," the former Tonight Show host said.

But Leno said men who delayed sharing stories of abuse or rape were readily believed, even when it was a religious figure such as a priest involved.

He said the experience should be viewed as the same for women and men who hid an assault out of shame and finally addressed it years later.

"When women do it, somehow it's a scam," Leno said, attributing the kneejerk reaction to "ingrained" sexism.

Leno spoke after a panel at the Television Critics Association summer meeting in Beverly Hills at which he discussed his new CNBC show, Jay Leno's Garage, premiering on October 7.

He did not comment directly on the validity of the more than two dozen sexual assault claims, with many of Cosby's accusers claiming the comedian drugged them beforehand.

Cosby, 78, and his lawyers have denied some of the allegations and no criminal charges have been filed against him.

A Cosby spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Asked if Cosby and his career could rebound, Leno invoked another entertainer's experience.

"Americans will forgive anything except hypocrisy," he said. "I remember I had Charlie Sheen on (Tonight) and he said, 'Look, I like hookers and coke. What am I going to do?' And the audience applauded. It's terrible, but at least he's honest.

"As soon as you deny it, that's your downfall."

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