7:49am PT by Eriq Gardner
Bill Cosby Loses Bid to Toss Lawsuit Concerning Alleged Assault a Half Century Ago
One statement from Bill Cosby's former attorney Marty Singer continues to bedevil the embattled entertainer.
On Nov. 21, 2014, as more and more women were accusing Cosby of sexual assault through the years, Singer proclaimed, "The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40 or even 50 years ago have escalated far past the point of absurdity. These brand new claims about alleged decades-old events are becoming increasingly ridiculous, and it is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assault over a span of so many years."
That statement is already at the heart of a libel lawsuit filed in Massachusetts by Tamara Green and six other women. Last October, in rejecting a motion to dismiss, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni determined that the comment could be construed as "of and concerning" them.
On Thursday, in a separate defamation lawsuit brought by Kristina Ruehli, Mastroianni came to the same conclusion and denied another motion to dismiss. This one, the judge says, was a closer call.
Ruehli claims she met Cosby in 1965 and was invited to a party at his home. She alleges that after a couple of drinks, she passed out, and when she awoke, she was naked and Cosby was attempting to force her to give him oral sex.
The story is similar to what other women have claimed against Cosby, but what makes this case different from the Green lawsuit in the eyes of Cosby's attorneys was that her allegations were published in Philadelphia Magazine the same day that Singer issued his comment. They argued there was no allegation that Cosby or his reps knew of Ruehli's interview or read the article before issuing the statement, that no one who saw what Singer had to say could reasonably conclude that the statement referred to her among others.
Mastroianni acknowledges that it's an easier call for the other women whose allegations were made public days before the statement.
"Still, Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts in support of the inference that Singer's statement was in part directed at her, namely, that the reporter for Philadelphia Magazine left messages with Defendant's agents twice on November 20, 2014, that the Singer statement was published after the Philadelphia Magazine article was published, and that Defendant and his agents were aware of Plaintiff's public accusation when the Singer statement was released," the judge writes. "The Singer statement itself also appears to indirectly reference Plaintiff's accusation by discussing 'claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks... about things they say occurred... even 50 years ago.'"
The judge also once again rejects Cosby's other arguments against allowing the defamation lawsuit to proceed, from the contention that the statement represented opinion to the assertion that a self-defense privilege immunizes Cosby from liability.
UPDATE 6/24 1:55 PM EST: Ruehli is apparently proclaiming victory and walking away, telling other news outlets that she's accomplished what she set out to do and has no need for Cosby's money.