Rudy Huxtable, played by the actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, was one of the most popular cast members on “The Cosby Show.” As the youngest daughter in the house, starting at age 5 in 1984, she was wide-eyed, innocent, spirited and got the most attention from her parents, Cliff and Clair.
After the show wrapped up in 1992, Pulliam went on to graduate from Spelman College and do some acting here and there. Unlike her TV sister Lisa Bonet, whose rift and distance from Cosby has been well documented, Pulliam has remained a staunch admirer and supporter.
And Monday, when Cosby walked into the courthouse cane-in-hand for the start of his sexual assault trial, Pulliam was on his arm.
Her appearance at Cosby’s trial has caused a stir and debate about why she went and what it means.
Television critic Ellen Gray said on Philly.com that Pulliam’s presence at the trial now blurs the line between Cosby and his TV persona, Cliff Huxtable. In a commentary headlined, “Why I wish ‘Rudy’ had skipped Cosby’s trial,” Gray wrote, “[Pulliam’s] presence, almost certainly part of a well-planned public relations campaign on the part of the defense, also encourages us to conflate Cosby and Cliff, and what’s good for one isn’t so good for the other.”
“What does the former The Cosby Show actress Keshia Knight Pulliam have in common with Ivanka Trump?” asked Ira Madison in a Daily Beast article called “The Ivanka Effect.” It’s “the men they choose to stand by,” he wrote.
“It’s hard to find anything admirable in a woman who claims to be a feminist while standing by a father figure with an alleged history of sexual assault,” the article said.
“Striding into court with accused serial rapist Bill Cosby as he began his sexual assault trial today, she embraced the exact kind of ethically dubious complicity that Trump has throughout her father’s campaign and presidency,” the publication wrote.
Cosby is on trial for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. To date, 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault.
Outside the courtroom on June 5, Pulliam explained her presence to a crowd of reporters. “This is where the truth happens,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s easy to support someone and to be in their corner when things are great,” she said. But “true family, friendship, integrity is how people show up and support when things aren’t looking so great, when they aren’t shining.
“As an advocate for women and with my nonprofit the Kamp Kizzy Foundation, which is all about empowerment, self-esteem for girls, I don’t take these charges lightly. I don’t condone sexual assault in any way, shape or form,” Pulliam continued. “I just pray for all parties involved because this isn’t a great situation. No matter what side of the coin you’re on.
“The man that I’ve known as a child was funny and witty and smart and philanthropic and full of advice,” Pulliam told ABC News. “I can only go based on who I’ve experienced, and at the end of the day, it’s the court’s job to find the truth of the matter.”
Others have applauded Pulliam’s decision to stand by Cosby. Popular reality TV personality Nene Leakes wrote on Facebook, “Do you think she did the right thing being there for him???” Her post has received nearly 3,000 mostly positive comments.
Elquan Williams said, “Yes! This man changed her life! Loyalty is hard to come by!”
“Good for her. You don’t stop loving a person because they did wrong; she’s not concerned about what the majority feels. He was wrong and should be punished for his alleged assaults, if found guilty. Family support family; he played an important role in her life,” Monica Williams-Parker wrote.
Pulliam isn’t the only cast member to support Cosby. In 2015, Phylicia Rashad, who played Cosby’s wife on the show, told ABC News: “This is not about the women. This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of a legacy.” Previously, Rashad told Showbiz 411: “What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated.”
But so far, Pulliam is the only “Cosby Show” member to show up at the courthouse.
Pulliam told reporters she will “accept whatever verdict” is decided.
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