Embattled comedy icon Bill Cosby may be forced to return to court yet again to be confronted by one of his many accusers.
On Tuesday, a Los Angeles judge ruled that former model Janice Dickinson's defamation lawsuit against Cosby can move forward. Dickinson has alleged that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in a Nevada hotel room in 1982, allegations he has denied in the past. She filed her suit last spring after Cosby's counsel Marty Singer dismissed her accusations in the press.
“Janice Dickinson, like over three dozen other Cosby victims, recently publicly disclosed that she was drugged and raped by Bill Cosby,” Dickinson's attorneys wrote in their complaint on her behalf last year. “In retaliation, Cosby, through an attorney, publicly branded her a liar and called her rape disclosure a lie with the intent and effect of revictimizing her and destroying the professional reputation she’s spent decades building.”
Singer first addressed Dickinson's claims in a November 2014 statement. “There is a glaring contradiction between what she is claiming now for the first time and what she wrote in her own book and what she told the media back in 2002,” he said. “The only story she gave 12 years ago to the media and in her autobiography was that she refused to sleep with Mr. Cosby and he blew her off.”
“Documentary proof and Ms. Dickinson’s own words show that her new story about something she now claims happened back in 1982 is a fabricated lie,” he added at the time.
On Tuesday, Dickinson's attorney and frequent MSNBC contributor Lisa Bloom, applauded the judge's decision on social media. "VICTORY. Court rules we go to trial against Bill Cosby. Huge win for my client Janice Dickinson. Thanks to my hardworking Bloom Firm team!," she tweeted.
Bloom and her mother, attorney Gloria Allred, have represented several of Cosby's accusers, many of whom have grown increasingly vocal about their alleged abuse and may be willing to testify in court against him.
Dickinson had previously alluded to an inappropriate encounter with Cosby during a 2006 appearance on "The Howard Stern Show," during which she claimed that publishers of her 2002 memoir "No Lifeguard on Duty" forced her to not detail what occurred in order to avoid lawsuits. In the wake of renewed attention on past allegations of assault against Cosby — which he has denied — Dickinson made rounds in the media during which she recounted disturbing memories of an alleged rape by the comedian.
"The next morning I woke up, and I wasn't wearing my pajamas, and I remember before I passed out that I had been sexually assaulted by this man," she said during an appearance on "Entertainment Tonight" in 2014. "... Before I woke up in the morning, the last thing I remember was Bill Cosby in a patchwork robe, dropping his robe and getting on top of me. And I remember a lot of pain. The next morning I remember waking up with my pajamas off and there was semen in between my legs."
Several dozen women have told similar stories in the last year and a half alleging predatory behavior by Cosby.
Throughout his long career, Cosby had never been charged with a crime — until last December, when Pennsylvania prosecutors re-opened a 2005 sexual assault case against the 78-year-old involving a former Temple University employee. The alleged victim has testified that Cosby drugged and “digitally” penetrated her against her will at his home just outside of Philadelphia, according to Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele.
Cosby's previously sealed deposition testimony in that case was released to the public last year, during which he admitted using Quaaludes as an aphrodisiac in past but never without a sexual partner's knowledge or against their will. He said he gave the alleged victim Benadryl and wine, and that they did have a sexual encounter, but that his actions were consensual. However, the alleged victim's attorney contends that Cosby is a "narcissist" who failed to pick up on the fact that the accuser is gay.
“If you look at the deposition you will see that there is no admission of criminal wrongdoing with respect to Mr. Cosby,” Cosby's attorney Monique Pressley said during an appearance on "The Today Show" last December.
“We intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge and we expect that Mr. Cosby will be exonerated by a court of law,” she added.
The former sitcom star has been deposed (as has his wife Camille) in several other defamation cases, and earlier this year he saw two potential criminal cases tossed out because they failed to meet the statute of limitations. He has also sued several of his accusers for defaming him. However, he still faces "aggravated indecent assault" charges in connection the 2005 case, despite a no-prosecution deal which had previously been in place.
Meanwhile, the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture has been hit with a wave of criticism for featuring nods to Cosby's television work as part of an exhibit which will debut this fall.
"There is not a Bill Cosby exhibition," the museum said in a statement on Monday. "Within the 'Taking the Stage' exhibition, dedicated to theater, film, TV and entertainment, there are 150 objects and two are related to Bill Cosby's career in TV and comedy — one comic book from 'I Spy' in the TV Pioneers case along with other materials from various TV shows, and the cover of one album, 'I Started Out as a Child' (1964) in the comedians case which features six African American comedians: Richard Pryor, Red Foxx, Moms Mabley, Dick Gregory, Godfrey Cambridge and Bill Cosby."
The museum added: "The museum explores a diverse and complex history that reflects how all Americans are shaped by the African American experience."