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Phylicia Rashad apologized in a letter to the students and families of Howard University for her public celebration of Bill Cosby’s overturned sexual assault conviction.
In the letter obtained by CNN, Rashad, who is dean of Howard’s College of Fine Arts, wrote: “My remarks were in no way directed towards survivors of sexual assault. I vehemently oppose sexual violence, find no excuse for such behavior, and I know that Howard University has a zero-tolerance policy toward interpersonal violence.”
Rashad went on to promise she will partake in “active listening” and university protocol trainings, sealing the commitment with the assurance that she will “learn how I can become a stronger ally to sexual assault survivors and everyone who has suffered at the hands of an abuser.”
The Howard letter echoed her initial response to the criticism. “I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward,” she tweeted on June 30. “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.”
I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward. 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.
— Phylicia Rashad (@PhyliciaRashad) June 30, 2021
“FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” Rashad posted earlier that day in a now-deleted tweet. She has long supported Cosby, her former TV husband, even as dozens of women accused him of drugging and raping them.
Howard University immediately acknowledged that her response “lacked sensitivity toward survivors of sexual assault.” In a statement, it said “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.”
— Howard University (@HowardU) July 1, 2021