UPDATED 7/1, 10:10 a.m. ET: Howard University issued a statement addressing Phylicia Rashad’s commentary on Bill Cosby’s prison release, noting the actress’ “initial tweet lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault.”
The school’s full statement on the newly named dean is as follows: “Survivors of sexual assault will always be our priority. While Dean Rashad has acknowledged in her follow-up tweet that victims must be heard and believed, her initial tweet lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault. Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies. We will continue to advocate for survivors fully and support their right to be heard. Howard will stand with survivors and challenge systems that would deny them justice. We have full confidence that our faculty and school leadership will live up to this sacred commitment.”
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Phylicia Rashad is reversing her pro-Bill Cosby comments.
On Wednesday, the 73-year-old actress drew swift criticism after celebrating Cosby’s controversial prison release: “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted,” she posted alongside a photo of the disgraced comedian, “a miscarriage of justice is corrected.”
Rashad, who played Cosby’s wife Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, clearly failed to read the room. The Houston native was immediately slammed for defending her former co-star, who has been accused of drugging and raping nearly five dozen women. Hours after her celebratory tweet, Rashad returned to Twitter to clarify her comments and express her support of sexual assault survivors.
“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.”
On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby’s sexual assault conviction and released him from prison shortly after. The comedian had served just two years of a three- to 10-year sentence for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004. The court announced the decision after determining Cosby’s due process rights were violated when he was convicted of drugging and molesting Constand. A panel of judges pointed to an old agreement between Cosby and a previous state prosecutor, who told the comedian he would not be charged in the case as long as he sat for a civil deposition. Cosby agreed, however, that deposition was used against him in his criminal trial.
Hours after his release, the following message appeared on Cosby’s verified Twitter account: