Actress and Howard University’s incoming College of Fine Arts dean Phylicia Rashad celebrated a court’s decision to overturn disgraced comedian Bill Cosby’s conviction for sexual assault on Wednesday.
“FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” she tweeted shortly after news broke of the ruling on Wednesday afternoon, drawing immediate criticism.
FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected! pic.twitter.com/NrGUdwr23c— Phylicia Rashad (@PhyliciaRashad) June 30, 2021
Rashad starred as Clair Huxtable alongside Cosby on his hit television sitcom, “The Cosby Show,” for almost a decade in the 1980s. She has previously defended Cosby, who nearly 60 women have accused of sexual assault, against abuse claims, calling some of them “orchestrated” in 2015.
Rashad’s tweet has raised concerns online from many about her incoming post at Howard University.
As a @HowardU School of Fine Arts alum, and as a survivor, this tweet from @PhyliciaRashad is disappointing. I hope we can have a dean who believes & respects survivors. Howards students who are survivors, I believe you & here are resources: https://t.co/AedmHaOPxN #HUStands https://t.co/qD4doAncIT— a Black-passing openly Black Latina. (@aliciasanchez) June 30, 2021
Dean Rashad,— A Shady Dame From Seville (@SorayaMcDonald) June 30, 2021
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. https://t.co/cD2miBDGXD
Phylicia's response here is not surprising but it is disappointing, given her role as an academic dean charged with the welfare of her students, some of whom will be survivors. https://t.co/TtOshLqtMk— Victoria M. Walker (@vikkie) June 30, 2021
The Hill has reached out to the school for comment.
Rashad made a follow-up tweet on Wednesday after drawing pushback earlier.
“I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward. My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth. Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing,” she wrote.
Her initial tweet came shortly after the Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court ordered Cosby's release on Wednesday after it said it found the actor should not have been charged and sentenced for the sexual assault of Andrea Constand.
Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years behind bars for drugging and sexually assaulting Constand in 2004.
In its decision to overturn the conviction, the court cited his past agreement with a former prosecutor that promised Cosby's testimony on the charges wouldn't be used against the actor.
Overturning Cosby's conviction and blocking further prosecution, the court said on Wednesday, is "the only remedy that comports with society’s reasonable expectations of its elected prosecutors and our criminal justice system."
"Anything less under these circumstances would permit the Commonwealth to extract incriminating evidence from a defendant who relies upon the elected prosecutor’s words, actions, and intent, and then use that evidence against that defendant with impunity," the court added.
Updated: 5:41 p.m.