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Bill Cosby's TV wife Phylicia Rashad defends co-star: 'Forget these women'

Phylicia Rashad
Actress Phylicia Rashad at the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the John F. Kennedy Center on honoring Bill Cosby on Oct. 26, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Bill Cosby's longtime onscreen wife Phylicia Rashad has come out swinging against the sexual assault allegations dogging her former co-star, saying they are part of an "orchestrated" smear campaign to keep the comedian off television.

Some 20 women — including supermodels Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson — have accused Cosby of sexual assault. The comedian, who has not been criminally charged, has denied assaulting the women and also has accused one of trying to extort him.

In an interview with ShowBiz411, Rashad — who played the iconic Claire Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" and also co-starred in the show's sequel, "Cosby" — slammed the allegations against the comedian. "Forget these women," Rashad told the entertainment website in an interview posted late Tuesday. "What you're seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it's orchestrated."

"Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV," Rashad was quoted as saying. "And it's worked." After the allegations, TV Land pulled "Cosby Show" reruns, Netflix postponed a streaming Bill Cosby special and NBC pulled the plug on a sitcom it was developing with the comedian.

Read more at NBC News