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The Cosby Show

Phylicia Rashad and Bill Cosby on the set of “The Cosby Show” in an undated photo. | NBC / Getty

The news had barely broken on Wednesday that Bill Cosby‘s release from prison was imminent when Phylicia Rashad publicly expressed her joy about the ruling in a tweet.

“FINALLY!!!!” tweeted the celebrated actress whose role as Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” endeared her to millions of viewers.

But that same tweet that injected her opinion that “A terrible wrong is being righted” and “a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” invited a vicious social media backlash as people scrolling their timelines were both caught off-guard by Cosby’s release and Rashad’s tweet — a double whammy of sorts.

Twitter users responded in kind without any kindness at all, calling Rashad all types of expletives and playing on the dismissive phrase, “Bye Felicia,” that was first made popular in the cult classic 1995 movie, “Friday.”

Rashad was specifically accused of being insensitive to survivors of sexual assault, something that Cosby admitted to doing multiple times after drugging women with quaaludes. Cosby’s conviction was overturned on a legal technicality and not because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined he was innocent.

Rashad reacted to the barrage of negative tweets at her by not allowing any more comments in response to her tweet. But about three hours later, she posted a new tweet in an effort to offer some context that critics said didn’t really help matters any.

“I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward. My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth,” Rashad tweeted. “Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing.”

If anything, Rashad has been the model of consistency with her support for Cosby. She has long employed a wait-and-see attitude since the sexual assault allegations against Cosby began receiving an increasing amount of media coverage.

In 2015, Rashad sounded almost dismissive of the dozens of women who accused Cosby of drugging or sexually assaulting them, drawing strong criticism from victims and survivors of sexual assault.

“Forget these women,” Rashad reportedly said at the time. “What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.”

Rashad later claimed she was misquoted.

“That is a misquote, and that is not what I said,” Rashad told Linsey Davis of ABC News. “What I said is this is not about the women. This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of legacy.”

Rashad is not the only “Cosby Show” star to come to Cosby’s defense.

Keisha Knight Pulliam, who played the adorable youngest child, Rudy, that same year referred to the allegations against Cosby as “just that – allegations. We live in America, where you’re innocent until proven guilty,” she said. “All I can speak to is the man that I know and I love.”

On Thursday, it appears that Rashad and Knight Pulliam were vindicated.


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