Phylicia Rashad Clarifies Her Comments About Bill Cosby

PHOTO: Actors Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad are seen in this March 2, 2000 photo.PlayDave Allocca/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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Phylicia Rashad doesn't have an interest in discussing the accusations of sexual misconduct launched against Bill Cosby.

That conversation, she said, detracts from a bigger issue surrounding the allegations, which Cosby has vehemently denied.

"We are really missing what is wrong here, which is, this is the United States of America. I know it's changing, but it's still the United States of America and there are tenets that we live by," she told ABC News today. "There is the Constitution of the United States, which ensures innocence until proof of guilt and that has not happened.

“But what has happened is declaration in the media of guilt, without proof. And a legacy is being destroyed because of it. It's being obliterated."

Rashad, 66, worked with Cosby for more than seven years, playing his wife, Claire Huxtable, on "The Cosby Show." While she never intended to publicly speak about the allegations made against her former co-star, she said she was dismayed to see that she was falsely quoted as saying, “Forget about these women" in a recent story by Roger Friedman's Showbiz 411.

"I am a woman. I would never say such a thing. I would never think such a thing," she said. "My message is, what happens to a nation in which people knowingly and willfully disavow the tenets that describe the nation? ... This is not about the women. This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of a legacy."

Rashad would not speak about the women who have accused Cosby of rape, nor would she say discuss the things they said happened to them. But she did open up about the "kind" and "generous" man with whom she remains friendly.

"Speaking to the character of the man that I know, this has not been easy. This has not been easy at all but he’s not a coward," she said. "I don’t know what he will do in that way but I know that he won’t be hiding. ... He likes being around people too much and he respects people."

Since November, various women have spoken to media claiming Cosby drugged and sexually abused them dating as far back as the 1960s and 1970s. He has always denied the allegations.

Cosby's lawyer released a statement early on, saying, "The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true."

Another attorney for Cosby, Martin D. Singer, added in late November, "The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40, or even 50 years ago have escalated far past the point of absurdity.