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Phylicia Rashad Expresses Support of Sexual Assault Victims Amid Blowback from Cosby Tweet

Phylicia Rashad was forced to address a tweet celebrating Bill Cosby’s release from prison this week that drew such backlash her employer Howard University weighed in to say it “lacked sensitivity” toward sexual assault survivors.

The award-winning actress, who famously co-starred with Cosby in the 1980s megahit sitcom “The Cosby Show, wrote in a now-deleted tweet Wednesday after Cosby’s 2018 sexual-assault conviction was overturned that a “terrible wrong is being righted.”

But commenters on the tweet quickly excoriated Rashad, calling the tweet insensitive to sexual assault survivors.

Cosby was convicted of assaulting Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his Pennsylvania home in 2004, and dozens of others have accused the famed comedian of sexual assault.

But he was released from prison this week after serving two years of a three-to-10-year sentence when the state Supreme Court ruled that a deposition Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit was improperly used in the criminal trial.

Rashad took to Twitter to laud the ruling, writing, “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”

The backlash in the Howard community and elsewhere was swift.

“As a woman, to see another woman support a man who hurt so many, it’s disappointing. As a Howard student, it’s unacceptable to see a dean supporting this,” Amber Lyon, a Howard University junior, told USA Today.

In the wake of the intense criticism, Rashad wrote in a follow-up tweet, “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.”

Howard University, where Rashad began Thursday as dean of the College of Fine Arts, issued a statement saying the school prioritizes and supports sexual assault survivors and that personal statements from Howard staffers do not reflect the university’s policies.

“Survivors of sexual assault will always be our first priority,” the university’s statement read. “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.”

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