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January 07, 2015 10:10 AM

Phylicia Rashad, who played Bill Cosby‘s wife Clair Huxtable on television’s The Cosby Show, has spoken out to defend her costar amid allegations that he sexually assaulted several women over the years.

“Forget these women,” Rashad told Showbiz411 columnist Roger Friedman as the two chatted during a luncheon at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Club to celebrate the new movie Selma.

“What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated,” Rashad, 66, said, noting she did not want to become part of a public scandal that has seen multiple women step up to publicly claim that the television and comedy legend, 77, had drugged and sexually assaulted them.

“I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy,” Rashad, who up until now has remained silent, said. “And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.”

Rashad, who joined former costars Keshia Knight Pulliam and Raven-Symoné to praise Cosby, dismissed claims by models Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson, saying, “Oh, please,” when Friedman mentioned their names.

The Tony winner called Cosby too proud to publicly defend the allegations, adding that despite the comedian’s contributions to educational causes and the entertainment industry, the scandal may displace his good work.

“Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV,” she said of the accusers. “And it’s worked. All his contracts have been canceled.”

Rashad praised Cosby’s longtime wife, Camille, claiming she wouldn’t be the type to look away and allow such indiscretions for 50 years if her husband philandered. “This is a tough woman, a smart woman,” Rashad said. “She’s no pushover.”

Rashad added that during her many years working on two shows with Cosby, she never witnessed any sort of conduct that has been described by his accusers.

“This show represented America to the outside world,” she said. “This was the American family. And now you’re seeing it being destroyed. Why?”

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