Actress Phylicia Rashad issued a second apology Friday, this time directing her statement to Howard University students, parents and alumni after tweeting an eye-brow-raising response to Bill Cosby‘s overturned conviction.
“This week, I tweeted a statement that caused so much hurt in so many people – both broadly and inside the Howard community,” she wrote in the letter, according to HuffPost. “I offer my most sincere apology. I have since removed that upsetting tweet.”
Rashad, a Howard alumna continued, “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.”
“Thank you for voicing your concerns, for speaking your truth and for holding leaders accountable for our actions and words. Excellence in Truth and Service,” she concluded.
“FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted — a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” Rashad posted on social media moments after the news surrounding Cosby broke on Wednesday. While the post has since been deleted, it evoked strong emotion in the hearts and minds of those who believe Cosby’s accusers and who have personally experienced sexual violence.
Earlier this year Howard announced Rashad’s dean appointment to the Fine Arts College to much applause and approval, but her comments around Cosby’s vacation included strong rebukes including calls for her to step down before the start of the fall semester.
After the backlash Rashad apologized for her commentary, noting that she did not mean to be offensive to victims of sexual violence.
“I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward,” she wrote in a statement. “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.”
Hours after Rashad’s “FINALLY” tweet, Howard University issued a statement separating themselves from Rashad’s public approval.
“Survivors of sexual assault will always be our first priority,” the statement began. “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.”