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Phylicia Rashad has issued a new statement following widespread outrage over her message of support for former TV spouse Bill Cosby.
Earlier Wednesday, the 73-year-old actress and incoming dean of Howard University’s fine arts college, seemed to celebrate Cosby’s shocking release from prison following the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturning his conviction on what some describe as a technicality.
“Finally,” Rashad tweeted. “A terrible wrong is being righted — a miscarriage of justice is corrected.”
Following widespread backlash to her statement, Rashad made a new comment late Wednesday that seemed design to soften her stance.
“I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward,” she wrote on Instagram. “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.”
The statement notably doesn’t withdraw her support for Cosby or apologize for her earlier comments, which have not been taken down.
On Wednesday afternoon amid the ongoing backlash, Howard University — where Rashad is Dean of the College of Fine Arts — issued a statement via Twitter. “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. 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 will live up to this sacred commitment.”
Rashad has also defended Cosby in the past, labeling some of the claims against him as “orchestrated.”
“Forget these women,” Rashad reportedly said in 2015. “What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture…. Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV.”
The 83-year-old Cosby was reportedly freed Wednesday after serving more than two years of a three-to-10-year sentence at a state prison following dozens of women accusing him of rape and sexual assault. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that a “non-prosecution agreement” the actor struck with a previous prosecutor should have prevented him from being charged in a case that stemmed from a 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand.
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