Two weeks ago, former Cosby Show actress Phylicia Rashad’s comments on the Bill Cosby rape allegations caused many to openly criticize her blatantly dismissive attitude toward the accusers. Now, another Cosby Show alum has spoken out on the allegations — and, sadly, the comments are still just as disappointing, though for different reasons. In an interview with Billboard, fellow Cosby Show actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner spoke on the scandal surrounding Bill Cosby, and — while his statements don't exactly mirror the stance Rashad took — they're still problematic in many important ways.
In the interview, Warner offered his thoughts on the allegations, and — while he did make mention of the accusers — unfortunately faltered where other Cosby defenders have also gone horribly awry by subtly subjecting the women to the same victim-shaming that's taken place since they began speaking out. Though he had the perfect platform to do so, it's deeply unfortunate that Warner didn't use this opportunity to become the first Cosby Show alum to openly show compassion for and acknowledge the more than 20 women who have accused the 77-year-old comedian of raping and drugging them.
His comments, via Billboard:
He's one of my mentors, and he's been very influential and played a big role in my life as a friend and mentor...just as it's painful to hear any woman talk about sexual assault, whether true or not, it's just as painful to watch my friend and mentor go through this.
I can't really speak on any of the allegations because obviously, I was not there. The Bill Cosby I know has been great to me and great for a lot of people. What he's done for comedy and television has been legendary and history-making. What he's done for the black community and education has been invaluable. That's the Bill Cosby I know. I can't speak on the other stuff.
Though Warner doesn't directly speak on the allegations, his statement is majorly problematic. For one, it's absolutely awful for Warner to liken the pain of hearing an old friend being accused of horrible crimes to numerous women's suffering during the alleged crimes themselves — not to mention, his disclaimer of whether the allegations are "true or not" is extremely troubling, because it could, in a way, be interpreted as him subtly accusing the victims of lying without actually saying it.
After so many other celebrities missed the mark when discussing the Cosby scandal, it would've been refreshing if Warner's statements didn't blatantly downplay the claims and allegations against Cosby in order to make a point.