Phylicia Rashad has apologized to Howard University students over a...

Phylicia Rashad has apologized to Howard University students over a Twitter post celebrating Bill Cosby's release from prison on June 30. Credit: Getty Images / TNS / Dia Dipasupil

"The Cosby Show" co-star Phylicia Rashad, a dean of Howard University, has apologized to the school's students for a tweet supporting Bill Cosby, who recently was released from prison after a court ruled prosecutors breached a non-prosecution agreement made in exchange for Cosby's incriminating statements in a sexual-assault civil case.

On Wednesday, after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated comedy icon Cosby's 2018 conviction for drugging and molesting Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004, Rashad had tweeted, "FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!"

The Theater Hall of Famer and four-time Emmy nominee, 73, subsequently removed that message and tweeted the same day, "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."

Howard University responded with a tweet distancing itself from her statements: "Survivors of sexual assault will always be our 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. …"

Rashad then sent an apology by email Friday to the historically Black college's students and their parents, shared by some recipients to multiple news outlets and posted online by journalist Phil Lewis. "This week, I tweeted a statement that caused so much hurt in so many people -- both broadly and inside the Howard community," she 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."

She added, in part, "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." She thanked those who voiced their concerns "for speaking your truth and for holding leaders accountable for our actions and words."

"It's not 'their truth,' Ms. Rashad, it is THE truth," one commenter responded on her Twitter account. Another noted, echoing several similar posts, "The reason he was found guilty is because evidence was used that was inadmissible. … The fact is he Admitted what he did. He told us who he is. We just have to act accordingly."

Cosby's representative did not respond to a request for comment sent over the holiday weekend.

Many of Rashad's entertainment-industry peers took issue with their colleague. Commack born-and-raised comedian Rosie O'Donnell tweeted in all capital letters, "I guess 70 women werent enough ... ." Approximately 60 women at least have accused Cosby, 83, of sexual harassment or assault, according to a 2018 listing at, though his conviction involved only one. Virtually all other accusations, stretching to the 1960s, are beyond the statute of limitations.

"To every woman who was sexual assaulted by #BillCosby my heart hurts for you today and I am full fury. It's horrifying," tweeted "Will & Grace" star Debra Messing. Comedian Kathy Griffin asked, "WHEN will things get better for women and girls regarding sexual assault, sexism, misogyny and ageism? What will it take? So discouraged."

Actor and women's advocate Amber Tamblyn tweeted, "I am furious to hear this news. I personally know women who this man drugged and raped while unconscious. Shame on the court and this decision." She said in a second tweet: "I don't want to hear anything about how cancel culture ruined men's lives during the MeToo era reckoning for women and survivors. How we went too far. Today's news that Cosby's conviction is being overturned is proof we haven't gone far enough. Our justice system MUST change."

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