Phylicia Rashad Defends Bill Cosby, Slams "Orchestrated" Abuse Claims

Phylicia Rashad

"Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV," said the 'Cosby Show' actress

Phylicia Rashad is breaking her silence on the sexual abuse allegations against her longtime co-star Bill Cosby

The 66-year-old Tony-winning actress, who shared the screen with Cosby for eight seasons as Clair Huxtable on NBC's The Cosby Show, defended the embattled comedian while speaking to Showbiz 411 at an event for the film Selma

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After first prefacing her comments by saying she didn't "want to become part of the public debate," she went on to say that she had never seen behavior by Cosby to suggest there is any truth to the decades-old abuse allegations that have resurfaced in recent months. 

"Forget these women," Rashad said of the many women who have made claims in the media. "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."

When asked about Janice Dickinson, who claims Cosby drugged and assaulted her, and Beverly Johnson, who alleges he drugged her, she responded: "Oh, please."

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Rashad, who also co-starred with the actor on CBS' Cosby for four seasons, defended Bill's wife, Camille Cosby, who has spoken out in defense of her husband. "This is a tough woman, a smart woman," Rashad said. "She's no pushover."

"Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV," Rashad continued, referring to people other than the accusers. "And it’s worked. All his contracts have been canceled." She lamented that the legacy of the Cosby Show, a family-friendly comedy once beloved by millions of viewers, is now "being destroyed."

When asked why Cosby has chosen to largely remain silent in light of the claims, relying instead on his legal team to deny them, his longtime TV wife said: "If he spoke now, what do you think the media would do with it?"

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Rashad is the second Cosby Show alum to discuss the scandal this week. Keshia Knight Pulliam (Rudy) spoke briefly about it on Monday on Access Hollywood. She was on the show to defend not calling Cosby during her short stint on Celebrity Apprentice to ask him for money. 

"Unfortunately, in the court of public opinion everyone has formed their opinion, but we're still in America and you're innocent until proven guilty of any crimes," Pulliam said. She declined to say more about the claims but praised the comedian for his philanthropic work.

Twitter: @_RyanGajewski