U.S. NEWS

Howard University Scolds Dean Who Defended Cosby, Doesn't Do Much Else

“Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies,” the school said.

Howard University has responded to a highly polarizing tweet by Phylicia Rashad, the dean of its fine arts program, with a gentle scolding and not much else.

In a statement released late Wednesday, the historically Black university described the tweet — in which Rashad hailed accused rapist Bill Cosby’s release from prison as the overdue righting of “a terrible wrong” — as “lacking sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault.”

“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,” the school wrote. “Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies.”

Rashad, who played Clair Huxtable, wife of Cosby’s Cliff Huxtable, on the long-running sitcom “The Cosby Show,” initially greeted the news with all-caps praise.

“FINALLY!!!!” she tweeted. “A terrible wrong is being righted - a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”

Rashad’s position of authority at a school with a troubling history of handling rape and sexual assault cases raised alarm.

She later attempted to walk back her jubilant tweet with a contrite second statement about the importance of sexual assault survivors having the courage to speak out.

“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.”

Cosby was convicted in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting one woman in 2004, but around 60 women say Cosby drugged and raped or sexually abused them, in some cases when they were teenagers.

The disgraced 83-year-old comedian was abruptly released from prison Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld an informal immunity deal that a former Pennsylvania district attorney apparently offered him in 2005.

The ruling does not mean Cosby did not commit crimes ― he admitted in a deposition to having drugged women with quaaludes in order to have sex with them ― but it does mean it’s unlikely he will stand trial again for the many crimes he’s been accused of.