Cosby Show star Phylicia Rashad backtracked to insist that she supports survivors of sexual assault after coming under fire for celebrating Bill Cosby’s release from prison.
Rashad – who played Claire Huxtable, the wife of Cosby’s character Cliff Huxtable, on all eight seasons of the Emmy Award-winning sitcom from 1984 to 1992 – took to Twitter on Wednesday to praise the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the disgraced comedian’s sexual assault conviction.
‘FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!’ she declared.
But hours later the 73-year-old actress returned to the platform to share an almost-apology.
‘I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward. My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth,’ she wrote.
‘Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing.’
Cosby Show star Phylicia Rashad backtracked to insist that she supports survivors of sexual assault after coming under fire for celebrating Bill Cosby’s release from prison
Rashad took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon to praise the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Cosby’s sexual assault conviction
Cosby, shortly after his release from the SCI Phoenix prison today
Rashad, who was recently named dean of the Howard University College of Fine Arts, has supported her former co-star in the past despite the allegations against him.
Cosby, 83, was released from the SCI Phoenix prison in Skippack Township today after Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court overturned his sexual assault conviction in a surprise decision.
He has served more than two years of a three- to 10-year sentence after being found guilty of drugging and violating Temple University sports administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
He was arrested in 2015, and was the first celebrity tried and convicted in the #MeToo era.
Rashad, 72, had been quick to defend her former colleague after the allegations first surfaced, and has gone so far as to suggest the accusers against Cosby had ulterior motives.
Rashad played Claire Huxtable, the wife of Cosby’s character Cliff Huxtable, on all eight seasons of the Emmy Award-winning sitcom
Rashad has defended her former co-star in the past
In a 2015 interview with ABC Rashad went so far as to suggest the accusers against Cosby had ulterior motives
‘What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture,’ she famously said in a 2015 interview with ABC. ‘This show represented America to the outside world. This was the American family. And now you’re seeing it being destroyed. Why?’
She would appear to double down on her stance, even after the conviction.
‘I just don’t accept what somebody says because they say it, and they say it in a loud voice,’ Rashad said of Cosby in an October, 2020 interview with Bustle. ‘The internet has given a lot of anonymous people a very loud voice. And this, too, has happened before.’
Other cast members of the Cosby Show have also defended the on-screen patriarch.
Other cast members of the Cosby Show have also defended the on-screen patriarch such as Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played his daughter, Rudy
Cosby with Pulliam on set of the show in 1990
Pulliam even once escorted Cosby to the courthouse during his 2017 trial
‘Whoever is involved, those are the people who were there. I wasn’t there. I can only speak to the great man that I know and love, who has been so generous, who has been such a philanthropist and giving back millions of dollars to education and schools,’ Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played Cosby’s daughter Rudy, said in a 2015 interview with Access Hollywood.
The actress would even once escort Cosby to the courthouse during his 2017 trial.
‘Unfortunately, in the court of public opinion everyone has formed their opinion, but we’re still in America and you’re innocent until proven guilty of any crimes,’ she said.
Not everyone in the entertainment world celebrated today’s surprise development.
‘I am furious to hear this news,’ General Hospital star Amber Tamblyn wrote on Twitter. ‘I personally know women who this man drugged and raped while unconscious. Shame on the court and this decision.’
‘To every woman who was sexual assaulted by #BillCosby my heart hurts for you today and I am full fury,’ Will & Grace star Debra Messing tweeted. ‘It’s horrifying.’
Reactions from the entertainment world were varied, with most expressing outrage
‘I know many young women and men who are so Afraid to press charges against their rapist and Re traumatize themselves I am heartbroken today to hear of the news of Cosby´s release .this is sickening. My heart is with my sister survivors. We have work to do,’ actress Rosanna Arquette tweeted.
‘WHEN will things get better for women and girls regarding sexual assault, sexism, misogyny and ageism? What will it take? So discourage,’ posted comedian Kathy Griffin.
‘Cosby drugged and raped 60 women,’ tweeted Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi. ‘Do they not deserve “fairness” and justice? This is why people don’t come forward. This is why urging people to “press charges” falls short, as long as wealthy & powerful men can rape & sexually assault people for decades with impunity’
Others, however, were supportive.
Others, however, expressed support, albeit some of it tepid
Singer Jennifer Hudson was among the more than 3,000 people who liked the tweet shortly after it was published.
Additionally, comedian Lil Duval tweeted: ‘Bill Cosby about to be free! City boy win summer 2021!’
He also defended Rashad, tweeting, ‘y’ass mad at the great Phylicia Rashad too huh?’
Former talk show host Geraldo Rivera was more circumspect – not commenting on whether Cosby should be free based on guilt or innocence, but on what he saw as the errors of the trial.
‘Told you so on #BillCosby,’ tweeted Geraldo Rivera. ‘He was convicted by a court so tainted by public opinion and social pressure that it allowed obviously prejudicial evidence and improper witnesses. He may be a bad guy, but in this case he was railroaded by the mob.’