Gannett News Service

Bill Cosby’s wife on his iconic ’80s sitcom says his legacy is being destroyed by sex abuse allegations that have dogged him since the end of 2014.

Actress Phylicia Rashad, who played the elegant, intelligent Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show,” spoke with Showbiz 411 during a special luncheon in honor of the film Selma on Tuesday and told a reporter that she thinks the controversy is a well-coordinated smear campaign and nothing more.

“Forget these women,” the site quoted her as saying. “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 … Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV, and it’s worked. All his contracts have been canceled.”

In a later interview with ABC News, Rashad said she was misquoted by Showbiz 411. “That is not what I said,” she told ABC. “What I said is this is not about the women – this is about something else. This is about the obliteration of legacy.”

The Showbiz411 report also said Rashad scoffed at the sex abuse claims of models Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson and defended the integrity of Cosby’s wife Camille, saying there’s no way she simply looked the other way while her husband supposedly forced himself on scores of women.

“This is a tough woman, a smart woman. She’s no pushover.”

• On Wednesday, lawyer Gloria Allred held a press conference with three new women who came forward with stories of being victims of Cosby’s unwanted sexual advances in the 1980s and 1990s.

The second woman told a similar story. She met him and was supposed to give him a massage. She wound up being drugged and raped, she said.

The third woman talked about working at the William Morris agency where she helped to set up personal appearances for Cosby. He invited her to his house to work on acting scenes that involved kissing and eventually she wound up meeting him at the Bel-Air Hotel, where he offered her a “large white pill” to relax her. He insisted she take it and she later woke up in a bed with a naked Cosby.