Howard University releases statement addressing Phylicia Rashad's tweets on Bill Cosby
(FOX 5 DC) - Bill Cosby's longtime TV wife Phylicia Rashad, who played Clair Huxtable on ‘The Cosby Show’, showed support for Cosby’s release Wednesday and her comment became a hot topic on social media.
"Finally!!!! a terrible wrong is being righted -- a miscarriage of justice is corrected," Rashad’s tweet read.
She later followed up with a secondary tweet, saying "I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward. 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."
In May, Rashad was announced as Howard University's New Dean for the Fine Arts College. She starts her new role Thursday. A number of people respond on Twitter, concerned that her statement would discourage students on Howard's campus from coming forward with sexual assault allegations.
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"Deans are entrusted with the safety of their students, this tweet from her is not just disappointing but dangerous," Andrea Diaz said, and she wasn't the only one feeling that way.
"Why would she do this? Why? I mean there's no upside to this," said Denise Rucker Krepp, DC Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. "There's certainly no upside to Howard students seeing this. Absolutely not."
"We're really concerned particularly for Black survivors," said Indira Henard, the Executive Director of the DC Rape Crisis Center. "Howard University is an HBCU and so we know the intersectionality of sexual violence and race, and so, this adds to that."
But as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Wednesday, prosecutors violated Cosby's right to a fair trial when one prosecutor disregarded and previous prosecutor's agreement with Cosby not to charge him. They say Cosby relied on that agreement when he gave incriminating testimony in a related civil lawsuit and did not invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
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"This seems pretty cut and dry. One, if a DA makes a promise or signs an agreement or makes an agreement on behalf of the DA's office. That's DA's office is bound," Defense Attorney David Benowitz said.
Howard University released a statement on their Twitter account Wednesday evening, criticizing Rashad’s initial statement.
"Survivors of sexual assault will always be our first priority. While Dean Rashad has acknowledged in her follow-up tweet that victims must be heard and believed, her intial tweet lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault," the tweet read. "Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies. 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."