As comedian Bill Cosby faced new allegations of sexual assault and protesters at one of his shows, actress Phylicia Rashad, who played Cosby’s wife on ‘‘The Cosby Show,’’ told ABC News Wednesday she was misquoted in a report on her feelings about the charges plaguing her former co-star.
In remarks first reported by Roger Friedman of Showbiz 411, Rashad sounded callous — almost dismissive — of women who have come forward alleging Cosby drugged or sexually assaulted them.
‘‘Forget these women,’’ Rashad reportedly said. ‘‘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.’’
On Wednesday night, Rashad told Linsey Davis of ABC: ‘‘That is a misquote, and that is not what I said. What I said is this is not about the women. This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of legacy.’’
When Davis told Rashad some perceived her comments as dismissive, Rashad responded: ‘‘I am a woman. I would never say such a thing.’’ But Rashad doubled down on her initial declaration a larger conspiracy to destroy Cosby was at work. ‘‘What has happened is declaration in the media of guilt without proof.’’ she said.
Friedman published a clarification of his own late Wednesday night:
‘‘Let me clear something. I did not misquote Phylicia Rashad. But she didn’t mean for it to be taken the way it was, and I should have punctuated. There was NEVER the meaning in ‘Forget those women’ that she was saying to actually forget or dismiss then. She meant, ‘those women aside’ — as in, she’s not talking about that, she’s talking about Cosby’s legacy being destroyed. It was conversational. Somehow this got twisted. I am really sorry if the way I presented it made it seem like either one of us was forgetting anyone. … What Phylicia was doing was defending her friend and his legacy. That’s what she said, that’s what I wrote, I’m sorry if it caused her grief. And no one asked me to write this. I’m just saying it because I like and respect her.’’
Rashad’s comments came after three more accusers came forward in a press conference Wednesday, including a woman who said she was former assistant to Cosby’s late agent at William Morris, Tom Illius. The assistant, identified only as ‘‘Kacey,’’ accused Cosby of drugging her at a meeting while she was working for Illius, who died in 2011. Kacey said Cosby insisted that she take a white pill he offered her to ‘‘relax.’’
‘‘He said, ‘Would I give you anything that would hurt you? Trust me. It will just help you relax,’’’ Kacey said. ‘‘I declined several times, but he kept insisting, so finally I ingested it. He insisted that I open my mouth and lift my tongue to make sure that I swallowed it.’’ She added: ‘‘Next, I remember waking up in a bed with Mr. Cosby naked beneath his open robe.’’
In November, a different accuser, Therese Serignese, said she received payments from Cosby sent from Illius via wire transfer, including $5,000 after she was in a car accident.
At the press conference, Linda Kirkpatrick said she was 25 when she was invited to see Cosby’s comedy show at a casino after playing against him in a Las Vegas tennis tournament in 1981. She said Cosby gave her a drink in a champagne glass that tasted ‘‘terrible,’’ and she woke up in Cosby’s dressing room after his show. She alleged she came to with Cosby on top of her, kissing her forcefully. She said she didn’t know how she got home. Kirkpatrick said Cosby called to apologize the next day and invited her to his room to play backgammon, and he attacked her again.
‘‘He caught me off guard, went after me again, grabbed me from the front, locked me in an aggressive hug, with his arms wrapped around my back and forcefully tried to kiss me,’’ Kirkpatrick said.
And Lynn Neal said she was in her 20s when she met Cosby while working in a Las Vegas health club between 1982 and 1983. She said Cosby drugged and raped her after one of his shows at the Hilton, and insisted she drink a glass of liquor he allegedly provided.
‘‘By the time we walked back to his dressing room, I was having problems walking,’’ Neal said. ‘‘I felt disoriented and confused. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I’d never felt that way before. When we entered the dressing room, I sat on the couch and he started taking my pants down. I said, ‘What are you doing? Stop!’ But he didn’t, and I was weak.’’
Neal continued: ‘‘He told me to calm down, he wasn’t going to hurt me and then he started having sex with me.’’
While Cosby did not respond specifically to Wednesday’s allegations, he has issued previous denials of any wrongdoing through his attorneys.
Cosby resumed performances on his ‘‘Far From Finished’’ tour Wednesday night with a show at Centre in the Square theater in Kitchener, Ontario. He has two more performances scheduled in London and Hamilton before returning to the states.
Those who attended were greeted by protesters. In the wake of renewed attention to allegations of drugging and sexual assault, as well as a parade of new accusers still coming forward, Cosby was forced to cancel planned performances at casinos in Las Vegas and Arizona. He offered refunds to sold-out shows in Tarrytown, New York, after the theater was pressured to cancel his shows.
In Kitchener, where it was a balmy 6 degrees Wednesday night, women outside the theater chanted ‘‘shame on you’’ and held placards that proclaimed ‘‘rape is no joke.’’
A fundraising concert organized in response to the Cosby shows raised more than $7,000 for two facilities that help sexual assault victims, Global News reported. The alternative event, which took place at the same time as Cosby’s show, charged $20 for admission, but waived the fee for those who came with Cosby tickets.