The former Cosby Show actor tweeted: “A terrible wrong is being righted – a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
Washington DC’s Howard University has published a statement distancing itself from Phylicia Rashad, its incoming College of Fine Arts dean, after the actor sent out a tweet celebrating a court decision to overturn Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction.
When news broke about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, Rashad, who played Cosby’s onscreen wife Clair Huxtable in long-running sitcom The Cosby Show, expressed her support on Twitter. She captioned a recent photograph of Cosby with the line: “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted – a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” The tweet has since been deleted.
Her statement drew an immediate backlash on social media, after which Rashad said in a follow-up post that she supports “survivors of sexual assault coming forward” and that her “post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth”.
In a statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday (30 June), Howard University explicitly criticised Rashad’s initial tweet.
“Survivors of sexual assault will always be our priority,” the 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.”
“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 statement added.
Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by nearly 60 women. The court ruling on Wednesday resulted from an agreement Cosby struck in 2005 with a district attorney, Bruce Castor, wherein Castor declined to prosecute Cosby in exchange for the comedian’s testimony during a civil trial. Cosby served more than two years of a three to 10-year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia.