Bill Cosby performs at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts, in Melbourne, Fla. on Nov. 21, 2014.
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

Two women join defamation suit against Cosby

Two women who accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them in the 1970s have joined a defamation suit against the embattled comedian.

Therese Serignese came forward publicly this past November to claim that in the late ‘70s Cosby gave her two pills that made her disoriented before he raped her. In mid-November, Linda Traitz also alleged that around 1970, she was given pills by Cosby before he groped her. Their claims against Cosby are just the latest in a string of allegations involving drugging and/or rape that have erupted in recent months.

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The case was initially filed in December on behalf of Tamara Green in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, a state where Cosby has a home. Green, a former lawyer, alleged that Cosby drugged and assaulted her in the 1970s, when she was a 19-year-old aspiring model. The statute of limitations has expired for all three women’s sexual assault claims. However, the recent defamation suit hinges on statements made by Cosby’s attorneys and publicist, who the women say branded them publicly as liars, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by msnbc.

Cosby has never been charged with a crime and his representatives have continued to dismiss allegations against him. Cosby’s current attorney Martin Singer and his publicist David Brokaw did not respond to msnbc’s requests for comment on the case. Cosby’s attorney Singer told NBC with regards to Green’s complaint: “We are very confident that we will prevail in this proceeding and we will pursue claims against the attorneys who filed this action.” Singer has also previously called the wave of allegations against Cosby “unsubstantiated” and “fantastical.” Cosby has never been charged with a crime and has denied past allegations made against him.

By December, more than 20 women, including former models Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickenson, had come forward with accusations against Cosby. The allegations have taken a toll on the legendary 77-year-old performer’s reputation. A new sitcom with NBC was canceled, as was a planned Netflix special. In addition, he resigned as a trustee of his alma mater, Temple University, and other universities have also cut ties with him.

Though several dates of his comedy tour were canceled in 2014, he is still scheduled to headline three shows in Ontario this week. Protesters have planned demonstrations outside the venues in response, and promoters Innovation Arts & Entertainment said in a statement that “we would face crippling legal obstacles for violation” if they canceled the performances.

Cosby vaguely spoke about the allegations in mid-December. “Let me say this, I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism, and when you do that, you have to go in with a neutral mind,” he said over the phone from his Massachusetts home to a New York Post reporter.

He also at the time commended his wife, Camille, for her support; she released a statement in mid-December backing her husband. “He is the man you thought you knew,” she said. “There appears to be no vetting of my husband’s accusers,” she continued, casting doubt on the media reports against him.”

Celebrities Jill Scott and Whoopi Goldberg have also voiced support for the iconic star.