Bill Cosby Countersues Accusers For Defamation, Interference With NBC, Netflix Deals

Cosby Black Background - H 2015
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Cosby Black Background - H 2015

Bill Cosby is hitting back at some of his accusers in counterclaims filed Monday against their defamation lawsuit.

Numerous Cosby plaintiffs, confronted by statute of limitations defenses to alleging sexual assault against the comedian, have sued Cosby (and in some cases his legal representation) for defamation over the comedian's denials of their allegations of abuse. Tamara Green filed one such complaint in December 2014, and Therese Serignese and Linda Traitz soon joined the lawsuit.

In November, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis, Louisa Moritz and Angela Leslie joined the complaint. In the meantime, a Massachusetts federal judge rejected Cosby’s bid to dismiss the case.

Now Cosby is turning the tactic on the accusers. The comedian claims the women have damaged his "honorable legacy and reputation" by "relying solely on unsubstantiated accusations" and "willfully, maliciously, and falsely accusing Mr. Cosby of multi-decade-old purported sexual misconduct." The lawsuit "is nothing more than an opportunistic attempt to extract financial gain from him," states the counterclaims, which include defamation and infliction of emotional distress.

Cosby denies he sexually assaulted the seven women. "Falsely accusing another of sexual assault is morally repugnant and subjected Mr. Cosby to severe emotional distress from public ridicule, shame, and contempt of such a nature that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it," states the counterclaims.

Interestingly, the counterclaims address an effect of the accusations hardly covered in the ensuing litigation: the projects the comedian was developing with NBC and Netflix at the time the accusations resurfaced in September 2014. In a claim of tortious interference, Cosby says the accusers "induced both NBC and Netflix to postpone or cancel their contracts with Mr. Cosby by engaging in a campaign to assassinate Mr. Cosby’s reputation and character."

He's represented by Los Angeles' Christopher Tayback of Quinn Emanuel, Massachusetts' John Egan and Washington, D.C. attorney Monique Pressley. He does not specify damages.

With the counterclaims, Cosby denies the allegations he defamed the women in his media statements, which the accusers claim he gave to sources including Newsweek and the Washington Post, and submits affirmative defenses to their lawsuit including self-defense privilege, constitutional protection and statute of limitations.

Joseph Cammarata, who represents the accusers, responded in a statement, "If anyone is surprised by Cosby’s actions today, they shouldn't be. He's taken a page out of the defense attorney's playbook in an effort to shift the focus of this legitimate inquiry. It is curious that he has filed a claim only against these seven women, when there are scores of other women who have made similar allegations of sexual abuse and assault against Mr. Cosby.  My clients remain resolute in their desire to have their day in court, sooner rather than later, and they each expect that their good name and reputation will be restored."

Dec. 14, 2:14 p.m. Updated with comment from Cammarata.