Malcolm-Jamal Warner: Cosby rape allegations are 'painful'

Malcolm-Jamal Warner: Cosby rape allegations are 'painful'
Actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner attends the Ebony Power 100 Gala at the Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles last year. (Brian Dowling / Brian Dowling/Invision/AP)

Malcolm-Jamal Warner has become the latest "Cosby Show" cast member to weigh in on the rape allegations swirling around comedy legend Bill Cosby.

The actor, who played teenage son Theo on the top-rated NBC sitcom, told Billboard magazine that he "can't really speak" to any of the specific allegations against Cosby but praised the star for his positive influence.

"He's one of my mentors, and he's been very influential and played a big role in my life as a friend and mentor," Warner said. "Just as it's painful to hear any woman talk about sexual assault, whether true or not, it's just as painful to watch my friend and mentor go through this."

Like co-star Phylicia Rashad, who has expressed concern that the groundbreaking legacy of "The Cosby Show" is being erased by the rape charges, Warner also praised Cosby as a pop-culture pioneer: "The Bill Cosby I know has been great to me and great for a lot of people. What he's done for comedy and television has been legendary and history-making. What he's done for the black community and education has been invaluable. That's the Bill Cosby I know. I can't speak on the other stuff."

But in contrast to Rashad, he stopped short of suggesting Cosby was the victim of a conspiracy.

Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played youngest daughter Rudy, also offered a qualified defense of her TV dad after she refused to call Cosby for help with a charity project on "The Celebrity Apprentice"  -- a decision that raised eyebrows given the current allegations.

Other cast members have steered clear of the controversy. Raven Symone, who joined the series as Cosby's step-granddaughter Olivia, used her Instagram account to deny the "disgusting rumor" that she was taken advantage of by Cosby but otherwise asked to be kept out of the scandal.

Lisa Bonet, who played Bohemian daughter Denise and was famously fired from "The Cosby Show" for creative differences, declined to comment on the ongoing allegations after a tweet slamming the embattled comedian was sent from a false account using her name.

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