Phylicia Rashad Says She Supports Sexual Assault Survivors After Celebrating Bill Cosby's Prison Release

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Phylicia Rashad says she fully supports "survivors of sexual assault coming forward" after initially celebrating Bill Cosby's release from prison. The actress, who played Cosby's wife, Clair Huxtable, on The Cosby Show, addressed her "insensitive" tweet on Wednesday afternoon. 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby's 2018 conviction for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand on Wednesday morning, after which Cosby left the State Correctional Institution – Phoenix in Philadelphia. 

Rashad was quick to express her support for the decision on social media, writing, "FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!"

However, amid backlash for her support of Cosby -- who has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 60 women -- Rashad soon followed up with another post, acknowledging the "lifelong residual effects" of abuse. Cosby has denied all accusations against him. 

"I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward," she continued. "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. My heartfelt wish is for healing."

Rashad is the incoming dean of Howard University’s fine arts college and late Wednesday, the university released a statement speaking out against the actress' initial tweet, noting that it "lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault."

"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," read the statement posted to social media. "We will continue to advocate for survivors fully and support their right to be heard. Howard will stand with survivors and challenge systems that would deny them justice. We have full confidence that our faculty and school leadership will live up to this sacred commitment."

On Wednesday, the court found that an agreement Cosby had with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case, according to documents obtained by ET. Cosby previously said that he relied on that agreement before agreeing to testify in his accuser's civil lawsuit.

The court also ruled that Cosby's case cannot be prosecuted again, writing, "He must be discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred."

Cosby was initially charged in the case in 2015. He was acquitted during his first trial in 2017. The next year, during Cosby's retrial, he was convicted of all three felony sex-assault counts.

Prior to his conviction being overturned, Cosby, who has maintained that his encounter with Constand was consensual, had served more than two years of his three to 10 year prison sentence. He was denied parole in May.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to review Cosby's case last June. 

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Constand said in part, "Today's majority decision regarding Bill Cosby is not only disappointing but of concern in the that it may discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant or may force a victim to choose between filming either a criminal or civil action." 

Cosby, meanwhile, said on Twitter, "I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence."

"Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal," he continued. "Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law. #BillCosby."


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