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Phylicia Rashad has taken to Twitter once again, saying she “fully supports survivors of sexual assault” after her initial celebratory post supporting her former TV husband, Bill Cosby, ignited criticism and backlash.
“I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward,” she wrote in her latest post. “My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth.”
Rashad went on to add: “Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing.”
Rashad drew harsh criticism after her earlier comments on social media praised the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Cosby’s conviction on a legal technicality.
“FINALLY!!!!” she wrote on Twitter alongside a photo of Cosby. “A terrible wrong is being righted—a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
Just hours after she made the tweet, Howard University—where Rashad is slated to be the incoming dean of the fine arts college—disavowed her post, saying in a statement that it “lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault.”
“Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies,” the university said. “We will continue to advocate for survivors fully and support their right to be heard.”
Rashad also received blowback on social media from commenters who called her supportive tweet for Cosby “abhorrent” “insensitive” and “gross.”
“You cannot root for the rapist and the victim,” entertainment publicist Danny Deraney wrote in one comment. “[Sixty] women came forward and yet that was not enough for you. Sixty! Would you like to sit with some of the victims and tell them your happiness that he was released? I can hook you up.”
Cosby, who was once known as “America’s dad” after his long stint on the family comedy “The Cosby Show,” returned to his sprawling home in suburban Philadelphia Wednesday after the conviction was overturned.
“I have never changed my stance nor my story,” he later wrote in his own Twitter post. “I have always maintained my innocence. Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law.”
The court overturned the conviction nearly three years into Cosby’s three-to-10 year sentence for sexual assault after determining that the actor had made a made a deal with the previous prosecutor in Montgomery County that precluded him from being charged in connection with the assault on Andrea Constand, according to People.
Former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor had made a deal with Cosby that if he sat for a deposition in a civil case brought by Constand in 2005 that he would be immune from later criminal prosecution.
It was during that deposition that Cosby admitted he gave quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with—which would later serve as a key part of the prosecution against him by Castor’s successor Kevin Steele.
Although the agreement between Cosby and Castor was never in writing, the Supreme Court ruled that Steele should have been bound by the agreement, The Associated Press reports.
In a statement released after the decision, Constand said she found the decision “disappointing.” She added that she believed overturning the conviction could “discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant.”
Constand alleged that Cosby had drugged her and sexually assaulted her in her home in 2004. After she came forward publicly, more than 60 other women shared similar stories.
Cosby has always maintained his innocence.
Upon his release from prison, Andrew Wyatt, a Cosby representative, told the New York Post that the former television star wanted to enjoy his freedom and planned to “immediately” return to the stage.
“He will get back on the stage, on many stages across the country, and he will be telling his story,” he said.
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