Bill Cosby's TV son Malcolm-Jamal Warner speaks up

(CNN) -- Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who played Theo Huxtable on \"The Cosby Show,\" has been quiet about his onetime TV father, Bill Cosby -- until now.

In an interview with Billboard magazine, Warner said that Cosby was a major influence in his life, and it's \"painful\" to watch him become the subject of rape allegations.

\"He's one of my mentors, and he's been very influential and played a big role in my life as a friend and mentor,\" Warner said. \"Just as it's painful to hear any woman talk about sexual assault, whether true or not, it's just as painful to watch my friend and mentor go through this.\"

About two dozen women have accused Cosby of drugging and sexual misconduct in allegations that go back decades, in some cases.

Cosby has never faced criminal charges. He and his attorneys have repeatedly denied the allegations.

At least three of Cosby's accusers have filed a federal defamation lawsuit against him, claiming that after they came forward with allegations, they were called liars.

Warner isn't the only \"Cosby Show\" star to talk. Phylicia Rashad, who played Cosby's wife on \"The Cosby Show\" as well as on the later \"Cosby,\" said she sees the controversy as part of a larger plot.

\"Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV,\" she told Showbiz 411's Roger Friedman. \"And it's worked. All his contracts have been canceled.\"

Cosby was supposed to appear in a new NBC sitcom, but the project has been shelved. He continues on his concert tour, though some stops have attracted protesters.

Warner said he thinks of Cosby positively.

\"I can't really speak on any of the allegations because obviously, I was not there. The Bill Cosby I know has been great to me and great for a lot of people,\" he said.

\"What he's done for comedy and television has been legendary and history-making. What he's done for the black community and education has been invaluable. That's the Bill Cosby I know. I can't speak on the other stuff.\"

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