What We Know About Steve Harvey's Controversial Friendship With Bill Cosby

While there are quite a few controversial things people ignore about Steve Harvey, one that takes the cake is his unwavering support for longtime friend, Bill Cosby. As famed comedians in the '80s and '90s, Cosby and Harvey both transitioned from stand-up comedy to sitcoms, leading "The Cosby Show" and "The Steve Harvey Show," respectively. But as one of America's favorite TV dads, Cosby's fall from fame was witnessed worldwide after he was convicted of sexual assault.

Andrea Constand was the first woman to press charges against Cosby in 2005. Constand accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his Pennsylvania home in 2004, according to Express Legal Funding. Years later in 2014, numerous women came forward with allegations of abuse that began as early as the 1960s.

Cosby was sentenced to prison time in September 2018, but in a surprising turn of events, only served three years of his sentence. He was released in 2021 due to a technicality found by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, per The New York Times. Before the conviction was overturned, Harvey was outspoken in support of his friend and mentor. "When I'm your friend, I'm your friend," Harvey said of his relationship with Cosby, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "'Bill Cosby helped my sons at Morehouse, and he taught me how to do this business. He didn't even know me and taught me how to do this business."

Steve checked up on Cosby amid the trial

Steve Harvey considered Bill Cosby a mentor, as the veteran comedian had been in the game decades before him. Before he was known as a media mogul, Harvey sought guidance from Cosby as he figured out his career. Over time, they grew to be close friends who even spent time with each others' families. "Bill Cosby taught me something when I first got started," he recalled to The Hollywood Reporter. "He said, 'Steve you have the ability to make people laugh. And once you make people laugh, you have their attention... You have to be careful with the power.'"

However, Bill Cosby had long faced these horrifying allegations even though they didn't reach the wider public until 2014. In the years following, a whopping 60 women came forward claiming to be victims of Cosby's sexual abuse. Many of these crimes he perpetrated by drugging the women with pills and alcohol. No matter how many accounts were made, Cosby staunchly denied all allegations.

When Harvey attempted to support his friend amid news of the trial, it didn't go as planned. "...He said 'Hey man, I appreciate you calling, but just stay away from me right now. You don't need none of this on you," the "Family Feud" host said. "Whatever happens to me, happens to me, but don't you get none of this on you.' That's an amazing thing for a guy to say."

Steve and other celebrities remained in support of Cosby

Bill Cosby's trial also came during the height of the #MeToo movement, which emphasized holding powerful figures accountable for sexual misconduct. Despite this, Steve Harvey said that he believed Cosby was completely innocent until proven guilty. In 2021, Cosby was freed from prison after his lawyers declared his conviction a mistrial. Apparently, he shouldn't have been charged due to an agreement made during one of his earlier sexual assault cases, The New York Times reports. After serving nearly three years in prison, Cosby was a free man.

Unsurprisingly, there probably aren't any people willing to work with Cosby now that he has been released from prison. Nevertheless, several celebrities supported Cosby throughout his trial, including Whoopi Goldberg, Cee Lo Green, and his "Cosby Show" co-star Phylicia Rashad. Rashad portrayed Cosby's wife on the family sitcom for eight years, and also had a stint on his subsequent series, "Cosby." She showed public support for her former co-star upon news of his release. "FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted – a miscarriage of justice is corrected!" Rashad tweeted the day Cosby's conviction was overturned.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).