Actor and recently appointed dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts Phylicia Rashad penned a letter to the school’s students and community, apologizing for her tweet that celebrated the release of Bill Cosby from prison.
“This week, I tweeted a statement that caused so much hurt in so many people — both broadly and inside the Howard community,” Rashad wrote. “I offer my most sincere apology. I have since removed that upsetting tweet. I am sorry. I intend to earn your trust and your forgiveness.”
In a tweet last week, Rashad came under fire after she hailed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s overturning of Cosby’s sexual assault conviction, saying “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” She later deleted her tweet.
Rashad played Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show with her co-star Cosby. Also an alumna of Howard, the actress was appointed the new dean of Howard’s fine arts college in May.
In response to Rashad’s comment, Howard University released a statement last Thursday, saying “her initial tweet lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault” and that such survivors would always be the university’s “first priority.”
— Howard University (@HowardU) July 1, 2021
“Over the next few weeks, I plan to 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,” Rashad’s emailed letter continued.
On July 30, Cosby was released from prison after his sexual assault conviction was overturned on the grounds that he was denied a fair trial.
The 83-year-old, formerly known as “America’s Dad,” was sentenced in 2018 to three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.
Cosby also weighed in on the debate, issuing a statement on Monday, saying:
“Howard University you must support one’s Freedom of Speech (Ms. Rashad), which is taught or suppose to be taught every day at that renowned law school, which resides on your campus. This mainstream media has become the Insurrectionists, who stormed the Capitol. Those same Media Insurrectionists are trying to demolish the Constitution of these United State of America on this Independence Day. NO TECHNICALITY — IT’S A VIOLATION OF ONE’S RIGHTS & WE THE PEOPLE STAND IN SUPPORT OF MS. PHYLICIA RASHAD.”