Veteran actress Phylicia Rashad sent out a tweet in support of actor Bill Cosby upon hearing of his release from prison. Cosby served two years of a three-to-10-year sentence for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004. Rashad was his co-star in “The Cosby Show.”
“FINALLY! A terrible wrong is being righted — a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” Rashad tweeted, along with a photo of Cosby.
Now the veteran actress is under attack and there is a push from Democrats for Howard University to drop her as the HBCU’s newly appointed dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby’s sexual assault conviction on June 30 and he was immediately released from prison.
The court ruled that prosecutors violated Cosby’s Fifth Amendment rights by using evidence from past statements in which he acknowledged that he obtained quaaludes to sedate women. The prosecutor had informed Cosby his statements would not be used as evidence against him, The Washington Post reported.
Some 60 women have accused Cosby of raping or sexually harassing them. His trial in April 2018 centered around Constand, who accused Cosby of giving her a pill and then assaulting her in 2004.
Cosby was convicted on three counts of assault and sentenced to three-to-10 years in prison.
Rashad’s tweet set off a backlash of complaints that the actress was being insensitive and disrespectful of sexual assault survivors.
Rashad has always stood behind Cosby. In 2015, she told a reporter that she didn’t believe the numerous women who had accused him of sexual harassment and assault, The Washington Post reported.
Howard University has condemned Rashad’s tweet. In a statement, the university said that it “lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault.”
The statement continued, “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.”
In recent years, Howard has been working to redeem itself from years of accusations from students and alumni that it repeatedly mishandled sexual assault allegations. In 2019, Howard partnered with the #metoo movement. #MeToo organized an HBCU tour and visited Howard with events for students, faculty, and administrators. The goal was to end sexual violence on campus, according to the university’s website.
Rashad slightly walked back her comments in a follow-up tweet, saying she supports survivors who come forward with their experiences of sexual violence.
“My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth,” Rashad, 73, tweeted. “I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing.”
Journalist Ernest Owens tweeted, “Phylicia Rashad is a dean of a school at Howard University, an HBCU with more Black women students than men — and she is capping for a man who admitted to drugging women and having sex with them in the process. Fall semester is about to be a trip…”
uchenna andrew @UcheOfforjebe called for a petition to push Rashad out of her Howard post. “Petition to remove Phylicia Rashad as the dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University.”
A Shady Dame From Seville @SorayaMcDonald blasted Rashad, tweeting, “Dean Rashad, Is this how you’re going to react when a Howard CoFA student tells you they were assaulted by another student if that student happens to be someone you like and admire? Because what you’re telling Howard women rn is that you don’t care if they’re raped.”
But others defended Rashad.
“The fact that people are BULLYING Phylicia Rashad all because she agreed with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision, just goes to show how easily it was to convict Mr. Cosby. At the end of the day fake mob justice NEVER prevails. #LeavePhyliciaAlone,” Nicole’s View @BLKLiberation84 tweeted.
Many celebrity Democratic party supporters slammed Cosby’s release.
“Whose Line Is It Anyway” host Aisha Tyler tweeted, “All you rapist apologists can get TF out my timeline. Don’t worry, I’ll show you out,” Page Six reported.
Actress Gabrielle Union tweeted, “NOTE: Bill Cosby’s sentencing isn’t being overturned because he’s innocent — but because of a previous deal he struck where he already admitted to drugging women in a deposition.”
Republican political commentator Ana Navarro-Cárdenas compared Cosby to Jeffrey Epstein in her tweet. She wrote, “Rich, powerful, sexual predator, Jeffrey Epstein got s sweetheart deal from then US attorney, Alex Acosta. Rich, powerful, sexual-predator Bill Cosby got a sweet-heart, no-prosecution deal from a prosecutor and is getting out of jail. Anybody else see a pattern, here?”
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