The universally beloved Phylicia Rashad, who played Bill Cosby’s wife on The Cosby Show, is catching flack for speaking out following the announcement that the Cosby, who was serving time for being convicted of sexual assault, was being released from prison and his conviction was overturned.
“FINALLY!!!!” Rashad wrote on Twitter. “A terrible wrong is being righted — a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
Immediately, her tweet ignited a slew of angry responses even though Rashad turned off the comments under the post. To those who responded to her initial tweet, Rashad tweeted a response declaring her support of survivors of sexual assault.
However, those who were offended by Rashad’s initial tweet weren’t feeling her follow-up post either.
Medium contributor Kendall Youens retweeted Rashad’s post and wrote “It turns out the only thing more cringe than watching a woman defend her rapist husband is watching a woman defend her rapist *fictional* husband.”
When a user commented, “I was absolutely gobsmacked when I saw her tweet. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with her that she would think that tweet is appropriate?”
Youens replied: “Also to not only think it’s appropriate but that it’s worth torching her own career to tweet! Like girl….lots of people have fucked up thoughts, and just don’t tweet them. The sheer lack of self-preservation is astonishing.”
Many who were angered by Rashad’s Cosby release tweet contacted Howard University demanding the historic HBCU fire Rashad who was recently named the school’s dean of the College of Fine Arts.
Howard University immediately issued the following statement:
“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,” the statement reads. “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.”
Several celebrities who were angered by Cosby’s release from prison made their voices heard, as well, including Rosie O’Donnell and Kid Cudi.
Cosby has served more than two years of a three-to-10-year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia before Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Cosby’s sex assault conviction after finding an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case. The person once reverred as “America’s Dad” had vowed to serve all 10 years rather than acknowledge any guilt over the 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand.
As a result of his conviction being overturned, Cosby didn’t have to make good on that promise, to the delight of his legal team and other supporters.
The blowback from Rashad’s words supportive of Cosby stems from the fact that the 83-year-old was convicted of drugging and molesting the Temple University employee at his suburban estate, and had been accused of similar misconduct by dozens of other women.
Cosby was charged in late 2015 when a prosecutor armed with newly unsealed evidence — Cosby’s damaging deposition from her lawsuit — arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.
The trial judge had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby’s first trial, when the jury deadlocked. However, he then allowed five other accusers to testify at the retrial about their experiences with Cosby in the 80s.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that testimony tainted the trial, even though a lower appeals court had found it appropriate to show a signature pattern of drugging and molesting women.
Cosby was denied parole in May at the Pennsylvania prison, where he has been incarcerated since 2018, due to “a number of reasons,” according to a CNN report. Cosby’s “failure to develop a parole release plan” and a “negative recommendation by the Department of Corrections” are two factors that contributed to the decision.
“Mr. Cosby has vehemently proclaimed his innocence and continues to deny all allegations made against him, as being false, without the sheer evidence of any proof,” said his spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt, in a statement at the time. “Today, Mr. Cosby continues to remain hopeful that the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court will issue an opinion to vacate his conviction or warrant him a new trial.”
Cosby’s conviction being overtunred makes the need for a new trial a non-issue. The groundbreaking actor/comedian was ordered released from prison and can not be retried on the same charges.