Cosby Show Alum Essence Atkins on Bill Cosby's Guilty Verdict: 'It's Sad to See the Legacy Vanish'
Cosby Show alum Essence Atkins is speaking out about Bill Cosby’s guilty verdict.
The actress, who guest-starred as Paula Young on the sitcom in the ’80s, opened up to PEOPLE at NBC’s Summer Press Day on Wednesday about her reaction to hearing Cosby had been convicted of sexual assault just a week earlier on April 26.
“I’m glad that justice is prevailing, that’s my hope, but it’s also sad to see the legacy vanish,” Atkins, 46, said. “You think about it in terms of Julius Caesar, and there’s a speech that Marc Antony says where he talks about Caesar being dead and he says, ‘The good is oft interred with their bones.’ It’s like that’s what happens. We latch on to whatever we latch on to and never really think about.”
Cosby, 80, was convicted on three charges in connection with sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion in 2004, when she worked at Temple University. Each of the charges carries a potential prison sentence of 10 years: aggravated indecent assault: penetration with lack of consent; penetration while unconscious; and penetration after administrating an intoxicant.
He did not testify during his trial, and has long denied Constand’s account — the first and only criminal sexual assault charge to be brought against him — as well as similar allegations by more than 60 women, five of whom were allowed to testify against him in Constand’s case.
Atkins referenced a tweet her Marlon costar Marlon Wayans had made Wednesday morning in response to Kanye West’s controversial comments about slavery being a “choice,” saying that Wayans’ message could relate to the Cosby verdict.
Wayans wrote that he prayed for West and asked for people to “please choose love.”
“One of the reasons why I really loved [Marlon’s] comment about Kanye this morning on Twitter [was because] there’s a whole human being there and they’re somebody’s son, they’re somebody’s brother, they’re somebody’s father, they’re somebody’s grandfather and so my heart goes out to the families of all those affected on both sides because there are good people on both sides,” Atkins said. “There really are. I know we wish there weren’t but there really are.”
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Atkins said she hates “that people are so broken” by Cosby’s actions, but that she would like to see equality within the justice system going forward.
“I hate when anyone is taken advantage of and abused in any scenario,” Atkins said. “My prayers and thoughts go to the victims, but I would love for justice to see equality across the board. There’s some other people out there who have some greater accusations and they need to come to justice as well.”
Wayans, 49, told PEOPLE: “Don’t let the only black offender be the only one that goes to jail. Justice has no color. Let’s be fair.”
Atkins and Wayans return for season 2 of Marlon on June 14 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.