Bill Cosby fired back against seven of his accusers on Monday, alleging in federal court that they defamed him and caused him emotional distress.
The new filing, in a defamation suit against Cosby, alleges that seven women who accused him of sexual assault have caused him “severe emotional distress from public ridicule, shame and contempt,” all by talking about their allegations against him.
The motion, filed in a federal court in Massachusetts, repeatedly casts Cosby as the victim of false allegations, emotional distress and illegal “interference” with his show-business career. It even asks the judge for a permanent injunction to prohibit the women from making their accusations against him, based on Cosby’s claim that they constitute false and defamatory claims. The filing shows Cosby is not backing down, and rather continuing another chapter in an aggressive legal strategy against a growing list of accusers.
Cosby has repeatedly denied the allegations against him, and he has never been charged with a crime.
Joe Cammarata, who represents the women in this suit, responded to Cosby’s filing for the first time in an MSNBC interview Monday.
“Is anybody surprised?” he asked, arguing the new filing was an combative attempt to sideline his clients. “Scores of women come forward with accusations of sexual assault and abuse,” he said, and Cosby “singles out seven – it sounds a bit like retaliation to me.”
While Cammarata’s clients allege Cosby assaulted them, their legal claims in this case focus on his words, not his alleged conduct.
The case began when three women – Tamara Green, Therese Serignese and Linda Traitz – sued Cosby for defamation. They argued that during his public denials of sexual misconduct, he damaged their reputations by lying about them. The case ultimately grew to include several more accusers.
Cosby’s lawyers first argued the entire case should be dismissed because his words were protected under the First Amendment – but a judge rejected that argument in October, which set the stage for Monday’s response.
Cosby’s new filing also counter-sues the women for defaming him, and blames them for causing Cosby to lose business.
The filing says the women “induced” Netflix and NBC to drop Cosby from TV shows, because they launched a “campaign to assassinate Mr. Cosby’s reputation and character by willfully, maliciously and falsely accusing Mr. Cosby of multidecade-old purported sexual misconduct.”
Cammarata said he expected his client’s claims to fare better than Cosby’s in open court.
“We have been saying from the beginning, we welcome an opportunity to present their case in a courthouse,” he told MSNBC. “It’s a forum where truth can be tried, and the rules apply fully and fairly to both sides.”
Cosby’s filing suggests that kind of trial is more likely, as the parties seem far away from an amiable settlement. Cosby is scheduled for a deposition in the case in February, while his wife, Camille Cosby, is scheduled for a deposition in just three weeks, on Jan. 6.
The case could go to trial in early 2017.