Many on Twitter condemned Bill Cosby’s release from prison on Wednesday as a setback for the #MeToo movement. But his staunchest supporters, including actress Phylicia Rashad, celebrated his freedom.
“FINALLY!!!!” Ms. Rashad, who appeared as Mr. Cosby’s wife in “The Cosby Show,” wrote on Twitter. “A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
Mr. Cosby, whose 2018 sexual assault case was seen as the first major criminal conviction of the #MeToo era, was freed from prison on Wednesday after a Pennsylvania appeals court overturned his conviction.
The court ruled that a “non-prosecution agreement” should have prevented him from ever being charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand, to whom Mr. Cosby had been a mentor.
Ms. Rashad later clarified that she supported survivors of sexual assault coming forward.
“My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth,” she said in a tweet. “Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing.”
Celebrities and prominent fixtures of the #MeToo movement have rushed to reply to Ms. Rashad. The former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual harassment suit against the chief executive at the time, Roger Ailes, was among them.
“Phylicia! #BillCosby being released from prison on a technicality is a complete miscarriage of justice & will never be an exoneration for the brutal crimes he committed against women,” she wrote on Twitter. “The world is now woke & women will no longer be silenced. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Tarana Burke, the activist who started the #MeToo movement, shared a viral tweet by Marc Lamont Hill, a professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University. “BILL COSBY IS NOT INNOCENT. HE HAS NOT BEEN EXONERATED,” Mr. Hill wrote on Twitter. “His release means that Cosby, a sexual predator, was incarcerated within a criminal legal system that has as little regard for its own rules and procedures as Cosby does for his victims.”
Time’s Up, the charity founded by prominent Hollywood figures to support victims of sexual harassment and assault, issued a statement calling the verdict devastating.
“The semblance of justice these women had in knowing Cosby was convicted has been completely erased with his release today,” wrote Tina Tchen, the foundation’s chief executive and president. “But let’s be clear, even the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision did not challenge the finding of the jury that Bill Cosby committed sexual assault.”