By Mark Pratt
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOSTON _ Three women who allege Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them decades ago say in a court filing that he doesn’t have a right to lie and hide behind the statements of his representatives to have their defamation lawsuit dismissed.
“Cosby claims a privilege to defame where none exists; tries to shield himself from liability, by hiding behind the actions of his spokespersons … and infects the motion with irrelevant matters in an attempt to prejudice the court,” the opposition filed Friday said.
The filing also said lawyers for the women intend to file a motion to obtain documents from a 2005 lawsuit against Cosby arising from a sexual assault allegation because they belive the documents “will contradict assertions in defendant Cosby’s motion to dismiss.” That motion had not been filed as of Monday.
The filing was a response to Cosby’s motion to dismiss the suit filed last year in U.S. District Court in Springfield, not far from Cosby’s western Massachusetts home. The suit is solely for the defamation allegation and not for any sort of assault allegations.
Cosby’s lawyers said in their motion that the women have each failed to state a claim against the actor for which the courts can grant relief. His lawyers didn’t immediately respond Monday to telephone and email messages from The Associated Press.
The opposition filing said Cosby’s motion to dismiss is “a grasp at straws.”
“It is an effort to avoid taking responsibility, and being held accountable, for publishing in national news media false statements that have badly damaged the reputation of each plaintiff,” the filing said.
The lawsuit argues that Cosby defamed the women by publicly branding them as liars through statements by his representatives after they alleged he had sexually assaulted them. They are seeking unspecified monetary damages.
Cosby has denied wrongdoing and hasn’t been charged with any crime.
Tamara Green originally filed the defamation lawsuit in December 2014, and Therese Serignese and Linda Traitz joined later.
Green, a California lawyer, said Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in her Los Angeles-area apartment in the early 1970s.
Serignese said Cosby drugged and raped her in a dressing room after a show in Las Vegas around 1976. Traitz alleged he tried to drug her and then groped her in California around 1970.
Cosby, 77, a longtime television and movie star and standup comedian most famously known as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the sitcom “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1992, has had his clean-cut image tarnished as more than a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct.
Many of the accusations exceed the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution.
Cosby has cancelled or postponed more than a dozen standup shows as more accusers have come forward, and women’s groups have protested or threatened to rally at many of his public appearances.