Shortly after Bill Cosby was released from prison after serving three years of a 10-year sentence for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, Rashad, his former co-star, Phylicia Rashad, celebrated with jubilation.
She said in a tweet she later deleted that, “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
However, the new dean of the College of Fine Arts at Howard received a huge backlash for her comments, especially from her alma mater. A vast number of students and alumni want her to be fired, citing her tone-deafness towards sexual assault.
The criticism also came from other celebrities such as former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actress Janet Hubert.
Phylicia what are you thinking!!! I don't know you but to say this was terribly wrong. EVERYONE knew what he was doing back then. How could you NOT! Get your umbrella sista here comes the shit shower. I am outraged that he has been released. Yes he is an old ass guilty man! pic.twitter.com/9mHtuEYLgk
— Janet Hubert (@OGJanetHubert) June 30, 2021
Rashad later put out a statement on Twitter in support of survivors of sexual assault.
“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,” she said.
Howard University has had a recent history of not handling reports of sexual assaults well. Six women filed a lawsuit against the university in 2017 stating that they allowed two students, who were alleged serial rapists, to remain on campus.
“The university’s actions have exacerbated and extended, rather than corrected, the resulting interference with the educational opportunities of each woman,” said the lawsuit.
After the Rashad controversy, the university put out a statement stating their number one goal is to protect survivors.
“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,” the university said on Twitter. “We have full confidence that our faculty and school leadership will live up to this sacred commitment.”