The shock overturning of Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction elicited a range of mixed reactions on Wednesday, with some greeting the release of the 83-year-old comedian and others sharply denouncing it.
On Wednesday afternoon, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ordered Cosby to be freed from prison after overturning his 2018 conviction for aggravated indecent assault.
One of the first to greet the news was Phylicia Rashad, Cosby’s co-star on The Cosby Show who played Clair Huxtable, the wife of Cosby’s iconic character Cliff Huxtable. In a Twitter post that was sent out minutes after the initial report, Rashad was ecstatic.
“Finally!!!!” she tweeted. “A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
Following a backlash from Twitter users, she later tweeted:
“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.”
Attorney Lisa Banks, who has represented a number of prominent clients in sexual harassment and abuse cases, offered her own take on the release in an interview.
“Certainly the optics of this are terrible,” Banks said. “But the message has to be very clear and simple — that this was a mistake by prosecutors, a very unusual one and a technicality that is unlikely to happen again.”
Talk show host and Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera blamed “mob” justice for Cosby’s conviction in his own Twitter post.
“Told you so on Bill Cosby,” Rivera wrote. “He was convicted by a court so tainted by public opinion and social pressure that it allowed obviously prejudicial evidence and improper witnesses. He may be a bad guy, but in this case, he was railroaded by the mob.”
However, a number of female celebrities expressed their disturbance and anger over the “sickening” release of Cosby.
“I know many young women and men who are so afraid to press charges against their rapist and Re traumatize themselves I am heartbroken today to hear of the news of Cosby’s release,” tweeted actress Rosanna Arquette. “This is sickening. My heart is with my sister survivors. We have work to do.”
While comedian Kathy Griffin said that the release sent the wrong signal to women suffering sexual abuse, asking: “WHEN will things get better for women and girls regarding sexual assault, sexism, misogyny, and ageism? What will it take? So discouraged.”
Rapper Ice T posted a photoshopped image of a yoked out Bill Cosby covered in tattoos and posing with the caption: “SMH…”
50 Cent threw caution and nuance to the wind in outright celebrating Cosby’s release, referring to the elderly actor’s critics as hoe’s in a since-deleted Instagram post of a Jell-O pudding pops ad with the caption: “My son Bill beat that case, These hoe’s be tripping. LOL check out FOR LIFE on IMDb Tv now!”
Meanwhile, Indiana hip hop artist Freddie Gibbs kept his message simple, noting that accused sex trafficker and R&B star R. Kelly would be “definitely calling Bill Cosby lawyers right now.”
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