Phylicia Rashād Celebrates Bill Cosby’s Release From Prison: ‘A Miscarriage of Justice’

Bill Cosby was released from prison in June 2021 after serving three years behind bars. The sudden release drew praise from fans of the Cosby Show actor — including his former TV wife, Phylicia Rashād.

Phylicia Rashad
Phylicia Rashād | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Bill Cosby’s assault case

At the height of the #MeToo movement in the late 2010s, Bill Cosby was one of the high-profile Hollywood figures who was exposed for sexual assault. Over 50 women eventually came forward and recounted the stories of Cosby’s various sexual assaults, including drugging and raping his victims dating back nearly half a century.

Back in 2005, former college basketball player Andrea Constand brought a civil suit against Cosby for sexual misconduct. In his deposition, Cosby admitted to having Quaaludes and giving them to women he wanted to have sex with. However, no criminal charges were filed. In 2018, after a judge unsealed the case, Cosby stood trial and was found guilty of three second degree felony counts of aggravated indecent assault.

Cosby was sentenced to three to ten years in maximum security prison.

Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashād
Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashād | Simon Russell/Getty Images

Bill Cosby was released from prison in June 2021

On June 30, 2021, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sent shockwaves around the country when it announced that it was dismissing Cosby’s case as the result of a technicality. When Cosby and Constand first settled their case in the mid-2000s, one of the stipulations was that he couldn’t be tried criminally for the incident with Constand.

The court found there was a “process violation” because Cosby’s lawyers had made an agreement with a previous state prosecutor that he would not be charged in the case. The prosecutor, Bruce Castor, eventually went on to be one of Donald Trump’s attorneys at his second impeachment trial.

Phylicia Rashād celebrated Bill Cosby’s release

When Cosby was on trial in 2018, his former Cosby Show co-star Phylicia Rashād made headlines for defending Cosby and claiming that the charges against him were false.

So when he was released from prison in 2021, the longtime actor let her thoughts be known on Twitter. “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted,” she said. “A miscarriage of justice is corrected!”

Rashād faced immediately blowback for her comments. Many took issue with the fact that she currently sits as the dean of Howard University’s fine arts school.

The Cosby Show
(clockwise from top left) Tempestt Bledsoe as Vanessa Huxtable, Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Theodore ‘Theo’ Huxtable, Lisa Bonet as Denise Huxtable, Phylicia Rashad as Clair Hanks Huxtable, Keshia Knight Pulliam as Rudy Huxtable, (center) Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff ‘Cliff’ Huxtable | Frank Carroll/NBCU Photo Bank

RELATED: Bill Cosby Released From Jail After Sexual Assault Conviction Overturned

Phylicia Rashād walked back her celebration

Rashād returned to Twitter to emphasize that while she was celebrating Cosby’s release, she didn’t want to discourage sexual assault survivors from telling their stories.

“I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward,” she said. “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 issued a statement of their own about Rashād’s comments. “Survivors of sexual assault will always be our first priority,” the social media statement read. “While Dean Rashād has acknowledged in her follow-up tweet that victims must be heard and believed, her initial tweet lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault.”

“We will continue to advocate for survivors fully and support their right to be heard,” it continued. “Howard will stand with survivors and challenge systems that would deny them justice.”