Bill Cosby wins in Pennsylvania court; defamation lawsuit dismissed
It was a win for Bill Cosby in court on Thursday.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania sided with the disgraced comedian and granted Cosby’s motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit, according to court records.
Renita Hill, one of the more than 50 women who have publicly accused Cosby of assault, filed the civil suit in October alleging that the actor and his lawyer defamed Hill in the media, court records show.
Judge Arthur J. Schwab dismissed the three claims against Cosby, ruling that the statements “do not support a claim for defamation as defined by Pennsylvania law,” according to the ruling.
Hill’s claims of defamation cite three instances in which Cosby and his team said the accusers needed to be fact-checked.
In November 2014, following Hill’s public accusation of rape, Cosby and his lawyer told The Washington Post that the women coming forward had “unsubstantiated, fantastical stories.”
That same day, Cosby declined to respond to the “innuendos” being made about him to Florida Today, stating that “people should fact-check.”
Shortly afterward, the comedian’s wife, Camille Cosby, wrote a letter to The Washington Post claiming that news organizations failed to “vet” her husband’s accusers.
In the ruling Thursday, Schwab found no grounds for defamation, writing that the multiple claims were “pure opinion” and a “far cry from labeling [Hill] (and the other women who have made similar public assertions) as liars or extortionists.”
“None of the facts alleged by [Hill] supported her claims for defamation, false light, or intentional infliction of emotional distress under Pennsylvania law,” Cosby’s lawyers said in a statement after the ruling. “It is our hope that courts in other jurisdictions with similar matters will respond in like manner.”
Hill’s lawyer said the decision will be appealed.
“We are disappointed, but remain committed to seeking justice in this matter. We strongly disagree with the judge’s reasoning that Cosby’s statements are constitutionally protected opinions,” George Kontos, Renita Hill’s lawyer, told CNN.
Cosby is in the middle of a litany of lawsuits, ranging from defamation to sexual assault, with several women who have publicly accused the actor of drugging and sexual assault.
In December, a Pennsylvania district attorney charged the comedian with “aggravated indecent assault” for the 2004 alleged sexual attack on Andrea Constand.
Cosby’s lawyers say that case is “unjustified.”