Phylicia Rashad's Tweet About Bill Cosby's Prison Release Sparks Outrage

The following article includes allegations of sexual assault.

On June 30, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned actor Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction, and he was subsequently released from prison after serving three years of his three-to-10 year sentence in prison, per the Associated Press. He was serving the sentence after being convicted of allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Temple University sports administrator Andrea Constand in 2004, according to the outlet. As the AP noted, a split court found that Cosby's initial trial was unfair — given that the prosecutor, District Attorney Kevin Steele, who arrested Cosby, was supposed to uphold a promise that his predecessor made that the actor wouldn't be charged. However, the outlet reports that there was "no evidence" the promise was in writing. 

And so the court ruled in 2021 that Cosby was allegedly operating under the impression that the promise would hold when he was arrested in 2015 — just days before the statute of limitations would run out on the civil charge — and he reportedly gave incriminating evidence against himself at his trial. The court ruled that Cosby's conviction was "an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was forgone for more than a decade." 

Cosby's conviction has long stirred controversy about whether or not he was guilty, especially among people he was close with. One of those people, Phylicia Rashad, who played his wife on the long-running sitcom "The Cosby Show," spoke out on Twitter after his release — and her response greatly upset fans.

The internet is outraged over Phylicia Rashad's reaction

After news broke that Bill Cosby would be released from prison, actor Phylicia Rashad tweeted, "FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!" Rashad has supported her former co-star for years, alleging that Cosby was being charged in the court of public opinion long before the case even landed in an actual court. 

As she told ABC News in 2015, "We are really missing what is wrong here ... There is the Constitution of the United States, which ensures innocence until proof of guilt, and that has not happened. But what has happened is declaration in the media of guilt, without proof. And a legacy is being destroyed because of it." Rashad added, "This is not about the women ... This is about the obliteration of a legacy." It's clear that Rashad now feels her friend has been vindicated, but the internet is furious with her response.

"SVU: Criminal Intent" showrunner Warren Leight wrote, "So the DOZENS of women who came forward ALL lied. Horrible enabler's take from @PhyliciaRashad." "This is a straight-up garbage tweet from Phylicia Rashad," shared a second user. Others are deeply concerned about her new role as Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Howard University. "I shudder for the safety of all of the women (and all students, frankly) at @HowardU if this is the public position being taken by an HU dean regarding a man with 50-plus KNOWN [accusers]," penned another.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Many are concerned about Phylicia Rashad's role as an incoming university dean

Amid the controversy regarding Bill Cosby's overturned prison sentence — and now, Phylicia Rashad's comments in the wake of his return home — many are concerned about Rashad's new role as the incoming dean of the Howard University College of Fine Arts. The actor, who graduated from the private, federally chartered college in Washington D.C. in 1970, was announced as the school's new dean in May 2021, USA Today reported.

At the time, Howard University Provost Anthony K. Wutoh called Rashad's return to her alma mater a "full-circle moment," adding the star's "passion for the arts and student success makes her a perfect fit for this role." As the outlet reported, Rashad said it was a "privilege" to be given a role in "reestablishing the College of Fine Arts."

However, Rashad's once-celebrated accomplishment is now raising eyebrows for many — especially students who are currently attending or were accepted for the fall 2021 school year. One former student, who runs a Twitter account with more than 11,000 followers, expressed her frustration on the social media platform and provided a link for resources. "As a @HowardU School of Fine Arts alum, and as a survivor, this tweet from @PhyliciaRashad is disappointing," the user emotionally wrote. "I hope we can have a dean who believes & respects survivors."

After sparking backlash, Phylicia Rashad says she in 'no way intended to be insensitive'

Phylicia Rashad is clarifying her statement after showing support for former co-star Bill Cosby's overturned prison sentence. Just hours after the "Cosby Show" alum caused an uproar for calling Cosby's controversial early release from prison a "[corrected] miscarriage of justice," Rashad took to Twitter to clear up her message. "I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward," she penned. "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."

Rashad concluded her tweet by saying her "heartfelt wish is for healing," but her kind gesture wasn't met with the best reaction. Twitter users didn't hold back when speaking out against the star's semi-apology. "No the f**k it ain't your heartfelt wish Ms. Rashad," one tweet read. "You applauded your rapist ass friend being released from jail. Healing looks like justice. Your friend drugged and abused over 50 WOMEN. I'm so disappointed. smh."

Other Twitter users suggested Rashad's role as the incoming dean of Howard University be reviewed and reconsidered. "It was more than insensitive. Defending a monster because he is a friend. Today's decision doesn't exonerate Cosby. He was still found guilty. He is free on a technicality. Period. Let's hope Howard University sees the light. You should not be near our daughters," read a lengthy tweet.