Entertainment Lead Story Local News

Cosby’s lawyers seek to dismiss suit against him

LOS ANGELES — Bill Cosby’s attorneys filed papers asking that a defamation suit filed against him by former supermodel Janice Dickinson be dismissed on First Amendment grounds.

In documents filed June 22 in Los Angeles Superior Court, lawyers for the actor-comedian say the case infringes on Cosby’s right to free speech and that Dickinson “cannot establish a probability of prevailing on her claims.”

Dickinson’s suit, filed May 20, alleges Cosby drugged and raped her in 1982 and later defamed her by falsely calling her a liar in two written statements provided to the media in November. The complaint alleges defamation, false light invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Dickinson seeks unspecified damages.

The suit alleges that Cosby sexually assaulted Dickinson in 1982 at a Lake Tahoe resort. The statute of limitations for a criminal case has expired, but Dickinson maintains she was defamed when Cosby’s representatives accused her of making up the story.

“The defamatory statements … had a natural tendency to injure Ms. Dickinson’s reputation in the entertainment industry in which she works and with the public worldwide,” the suit states.

But the attorneys for Cosby state in their court papers that the letters were “pre-litigation” documents written in connection with a judicial proceeding and are therefore protected activity under the Constitution. They also address matters of public interest, according to the Cosby lawyers’ court papers.

The accusations and response are part of a larger public conversation about how to deal with allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct in a manner that is fair to both the alleged victim and the accused,” the Cosby attorneys state in their court papers.

The letters were not even published by Cosby, but instead by his lead attorney, Martin Singer, according to the Cosby lawyers’ court papers.

“At the time I issued the Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 statements, I also had prior personal experience with Ms. Dickinson in the course of my representation of a client against whom Ms. Dickinson made false paternity claims and other false accusations for pecuniary gain several years ago,” Singer states in a sworn declaration.

Singer also states he already “was aware that Ms. Dickinson had a notorious reputation as a wild and unreliable person.”

Dickinson cannot prove she suffered any damages, according to the Cosby attorneys’ court papers.

“Long before the statements, Ms. Dickinson had a widespread reputation for outrageous behavior that included substance abuse, mental lapses and lying,” Cosby lawyers’ court papers said. “Indeed, this is a reputation she actively cultivated and commercially exploited by appearing in various reality TV shows such as ‘Recovering Celeb Addicts, Reformed Liars.’”

Dickinson, 60, is among a number of women who have come forward in recent months to accuse the 77-year-old Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them.

“Ms Dickinson decided to cash in on that publicity when she completely changed her story,” Cosby’s lawyers state in their court papers.

A hearing on the motion to dismiss Dickinson’s case is scheduled Oct. 6 before Judge Robert Hess.