Actress Phylicia Rashad issued a ‘heartfelt apology’ to students and parents at Howard University on Friday after she suffered backlash for defending Bill Cosbysexual assault conviction overturned and subsequent release from prison.
“My remarks were in no way directed at survivors of sexual assault. I vehemently oppose sexual violence, find no excuse for such behavior, and I know Howard University has a policy. of zero tolerance towards interpersonal violence, ”Rashad wrote, according to reports. .
The “The Cosby Show” actress and Howard University alumnus was named dean of the school’s restored College of Fine Arts in May. On Wednesday, she found herself at the center of a social media storm when she celebrated the overturning of Cosby’s sexual assault conviction by Pennsylvania’s highest court.
The court said it found the prosecutor in charge of the case had violated an agreement with another prosecutor that prevented Cosby from being charged.
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Rashad’s controversial tweet on Wednesday read: “” FINALLY !!!! A terrible wrong is being righted – a miscarriage of justice is corrected! ”
She then reconsidered her statement following the quick criticism. “I fully support survivors of sexual assault who come forward,” she tweeted. “My post was in no way intended to be oblivious to their truth. Personally, I know from my friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My sincere wish is to be cured.”
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Critics of Rashad included several former and current Howard University students, many of them on social media who called for his dismissal from school or “resignation.”
Howard University’s May announcement regarding her appointment indicates that her post as Dean of the College of Fine Arts would take effect on July 1, 2021. Shortly after Rashad posted his controversial tweet on Wednesday, the university announced issued a statement on behalf of survivors of sexual assault.
“Survivors of sexual assault will always be our first priority,” the university said in the statement. “While Dean Rashad acknowledged in his follow-up tweet that victims must be heard and believed, his initial tweet lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault.”
“The personal positions of university leaders do not reflect the policies of Howard University,” the statement continued. “We will continue to fully stand up for survivors and support their right to be heard. Howard will stand with survivors and challenge systems that deny them justice. We are fully confident that our teachers and school leaders will be up to date. height of this sacred commitment. “
Rashad played Clair Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1992, working alongside the disgraced actor who played Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the NBC program.
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Cosby served more than two years of a three- to ten-year sentence in a state prison near Philadelphia. He had sworn to serve the 10 years rather than acknowledge his remorse during the 2004 meeting with the accuser Andrea Constand.
Cosby, 83, who was once loved as “America’s father” while working alongside Rashad, was convicted of drugging and assaulting the Temple University employee in his field. suburbs.
The former “Cosby Show” star was indicted in late 2015 when a prosecutor armed with newly unsealed evidence – Cosby’s prejudicial testimony from his trial – arrested him days before the 12-month statute of limitations expired. years.
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The trial judge had allowed only one other accuser to testify at Cosby’s first trial when the jury found itself at a standstill. However, he then allowed five other accusers to testify at the retrial about their experiences with Cosby in the 1980s.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said the testimony marred the trial, even though a lower appeals court found it appropriate to show a characteristic pattern of drugs and assault on women.
Rashad has defended her former husband onscreen before, most notably in a 2015 interview with ABC News in which she clarified previous statements in which she had been quoted as saying “forget these women”.
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“That was a wrong quote, that’s not what I said,” she said at the time. “What I said was it’s not about women. It’s about something else. It’s about erasing the legacy.”
Rashad maintained his position at the time that the allegations were false and that the women who came forward had a vested interest in tarnishing the comedian’s legendary legacy in the entertainment world. She was accused earlier this year of allowing her former co-star by criticism on social media, but did not respond directly to the allegations.
Howard University and representatives for Rashad did not immediately return Fox News’ requests for comment.
Brian Flood of Fox News and Associated Press contributed to this report.