Phylicia Rashad attends the Broadway Opening Performance of 'Side Show' on Nov. 17, 2014 in New York City.
Walter McBride—Getty Images
By Tessa Berenson
January 7, 2015

Bill Cosby’s former TV wife defended him against sexual assault allegations Tuesday, sticking up for him amid a growing scandal that now includes a defamation lawsuit against Cosby.

“Forget these women,” Phylicia Rashad said to Roger Friedman of Showbiz 411 about those who have accused Cosby of sexual assault.

After initially hesitating to speak about Cosby, Rashad continued, “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.”

Rashad also lamented the effect the rape allegations will have on the Cosby show: “This show represented America to the outside world. This was the American family. And now you’re seeing it being destroyed.”

Read next: Bill Cosby’s Youngest Daughter Defends Him Against Sex Assault Allegations

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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@time.com.

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