Social media users were shocked to hear the news that Bill Cosby had been released from jail after serving more than two years of a three to 10-year sentence in prison for charges stemming from his 2018 sexual assault case. On Wednesday, June 30, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated his conviction and ruled that he could not be retired on the charges.
Among those reacting to the latest update was Cosby’s television wife, Phylicia Rashad, who shot out a celebratory post shortly after the news had been made public, writing “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted—a miscarriage of justice is corrected.”
The “A Raisin in the Sun” star’s remark was quickly met with mixed reactions from online users, many of whom expressed disappointment in the actress’ post, including “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star Janet Hubert who addressed the star from “The Cosby Show” on Twitter.
“Phylicia what are you thinking!!!” Hubert wrote. “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!”
She continued, “I would have said he’s old he’s out and I’m happy for him, but he still …guilty. I know 5 women who have not come forward. Enough Ya’ll we know better. Powerful men do wrong things, black or white…”
Later that day, Rashad, who was recently announced as Howard University’s Dean of Fine Arts, addressed the backlash with a post on her Instagram Stories and Twitter, writing, “I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward. My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth.” She continued, “Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing.”
The Washington, D.C.-based university also released a statement on its official Twitter account, denouncing the actress’ post to Cosby, stating that while they acknowledged the actress’ accountability in her post, her “initial tweet lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault.”
The statement continued, “Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies. 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. We have full confidence that our faculty and school leadership will live up to this sacred commitment.”
Still, many appeared unsatisfied with both statements. Many called for some form of disciplinary action toward the incoming dean, including one Twitter user who called out the school’s president, Wayne Frederick, stating, “As a Dean @PhyliciaRashad is one of the people students should be able to safely go to under Title IX.” That person added, “There needs to be accountability to be sure she knows exactly what’s wrong about her stance vehemently defending an admitted rapist. @HUPrez17.”
Cosby’s release on the basis of a breached agreement made with former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. turned heads of many, including Castor Jr.’s successor, Democrat Kevin Steele, who disagreed with the decision. “He was found guilty by a jury and now goes free on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime,” the D.A. explained. “My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims.”