Howard University has disavowed a tweet actress Phylicia Rashad, its incoming College of Fine Arts dean, sent out celebrating a court’s Wednesday decision to overturn disgraced comedian Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction.
Rashad, who co-starred as Clair Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” for almost a decade, praised the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision to vacate Cosby's 2018 conviction because of a previous deal he had made with a prosecutor.
FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected! pic.twitter.com/NrGUdwr23c— Phylicia Rashad (@PhyliciaRashad) June 30, 2021
But after the tweet drew immense backlash online and raised concerns about her incoming position at Howard, Rashad said in a follow-up tweet that she fully supports “survivors of sexual assault coming forward” and that her “post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth.”
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.— Phylicia Rashad (@PhyliciaRashad) June 30, 2021
In a statement posted to Twitter late Wednesday, the school criticized Rashad’s initial tweet praising Cosby’s release.
“Survivors of sexual assault will always be our priority,” Howard said. “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,” the school added.
Rashad had previously defended Cosby, whom nearly 60 women have accused of sexual assault, against abuse claims in 2015, calling some of their accusations “orchestrated.”
Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years behind bars for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.