The Cosby Show actress Phylicia Rashad issued an apology to Howard University — where she serves as dean of the fine arts program — Friday following her tweet celebrating the release of her former co-star Bill Cosby.
After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled to vacate the 2018 sexual assault conviction against Cosby on Wednesday, Rashad tweeted, “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
However, Rashad deleted the tweet following criticism from the public as well as Howard University students and faculty; earlier this year, it was announced that Rashad — who was a mentor to Chadwick Boseman during his time at the university — would serve as the dean of Howard’s College of Fine Arts named after the late actor.
In an email to Howard University students and parents Friday (via CNN), Rashad wrote, “My remarks were in no way directed towards survivors of sexual assault. I vehemently oppose sexual violence, find no excuse for such behavior, and I know that Howard University has a zero-tolerance policy toward interpersonal violence.”
Rashad added that she planned 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.”
Following Rashad’s June 30th tweet, Howard University disavowed her remarks in a statement posted on social media, “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 initial tweet lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault. Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies.”
In a tweet that followed the controversy, Rashad wrote, “”I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward,” Rashad wrote in a subsequent tweet. 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.”
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.
— Phylicia Rashad (@PhyliciaRashad) June 30, 2021