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Phylicia Rashad apologizes for celebrating Bill Cosby’s release

A closeup of Phylicia Rashad in formal wear and jewelry.
Actress Phylicia Rashad is a graduate of Howard University, and was appointed as the dean of the school’s College of Fine Arts in May.
(Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)

Actress and star of “The Cosby Show” Phylicia Rashad penned a letter that was sent out to students at Howard University, where she is now a dean. The letter contained an apology for remarks she made in celebration of Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction being overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

“My remarks were in no way directed toward survivors of sexual assault,” Rashad wrote. “I vehemently oppose sexual violence, find no excuse for such behavior, and I know that Howard University has a zero-tolerance policy toward interpersonal violence.”

Rashad is a graduate of Howard University. She was appointed as dean of the school’s College of Fine Arts in May.

After news of Cosby’s overturned conviction became public, Rashad tweeted, “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted — a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” A picture of the two together accompanied the tweet.

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She has since removed “that upsetting tweet.”

With one ill-advised tweet, Cosby’s longtime TV wife proved she’s no Clair Huxtable — and made a disconcerting statement about the limits of #MeToo.

In the letter, Rashad said she would “engage in active listening and participate in trainings to not only reinforce University protocol and conduct, but also to learn how I can become a stronger ally to sexual assault survivors and everyone who has suffered at the hands of an abuser.”

“My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth,” Rashad continued. “Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing.”

Her own employer denounced her initial comments after they went viral.

“Survivors of sexual assault will always be our first priority,” read a Howard University statement. “While Dean Rashad has acknowledged in her follow-up tweet that victims must be heard and believed, her initial tweet lacked sensitivity toward survivors of sexual assault.

“Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies,” the statement added.


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