December 9, 2023

(lr) Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad appear on NBC News’ “Today” show.

Peter Cramer | NBCUniversal | Getty Images

Phylicia Rashad, Bill Cosby’s television wife and future dean of Howard University’s Fine Arts College, was harshly criticized on Wednesday after celebrating the controversial comedian’s release from prison.

Earlier in the day, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby’s conviction based on an agreement with a former prosecutor that would have prevented him from being prosecuted. The ruling prohibits a retrial, court documents say.

The 83-year-old comedian was sentenced to two years to three to ten years in prison for indecent assault against Andrea Constand in 2004. 60 women across the country have reported to accuse the “Cosby Show” star of rape or sexual harassment. many said they were drugged during these encounters. Cosby said his contact with Constand was amicable and he has denied all other allegations of wrongdoing.

“Finally,” Rashad tweeted in capital letters and a series of exclamation marks. “A terrible injustice will be redressed – a miscarriage of justice will be corrected.”

Rashad, who played Cosby’s wife on two television shows, was recently appointed dean of the newly formed and renamed Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University. The position makes Rashad a first-line response to sexual assault on campus.

Howard University officials did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Rashad has previously defended Cosby, calling some of the abuse allegations against him “orchestrated.”

Her tweet raised concerns among many online about how she might deal with allegations of sexual assault in her role as dean.

Linda Correia, a Washington attorney who sued Howard University in 2017 on behalf of six then-students at the university for failing to respond properly to their complaints about sexual violence, said of Rashad’s tweet: “Well, I think the miscarriage of justice is for the victims “, who testified at Cosby’s trial.

“It’s not surprising that she supported him. She always supported him,” said Correia, whose clients last year settled their lawsuit with Howard on undisclosed terms.

She added, “I would say that I think any statement that goes against the recognition of the miscarriage of justice for the women who had the courage to come forward is not what the student survivors are likely to see now want.”