Bill Cosby takes legal hits in abuse cases on both US coasts
NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES – Courts on both US coasts dealt setbacks to Bill Cosby’s legal team on Tuesday, as the comedian kept trying to fend off lawsuits over allegations that he has sexually abused women for decades.
A California judge, in a ruling made public on Tuesday, refused Cosby’s second attempt to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a woman who accused the entertainer of sexually abusing her when she was 15 at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
In New York, a federal judge ruled against Cosby’s effort to compel the publisher of New York magazine to provide access to unedited interviews of six women who are suing him over separate abuse allegations.
Representatives for Cosby declined to comment.
More than 50 women have publicly accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them, often after plying them with alcohol or drugs in instances dating back decades. Many of the accusations are too old to be litigated, but the mounting scandal has knocked Cosby, 78, off his pedestal as one of the most popular, family-friendly entertainers in America.
As star of the long-running hit TV comedy “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s and early ’90s, Cosby played a loving dad who was a model of responsible fatherhood. He has acknowledged marital infidelity but denied ever engaging in non-consensual sexual behavior.
In the California case, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan sided with Cosby’s accuser, Judy Huth, in allowing her case to proceed, rejecting defense assertions that the lawsuit was barred under the statute of limitations.
The judge ruled that Huth properly brought her case under a California law allowing childhood abuse victims to sue as adults within three years of claiming to have realized they suffered repressed psychological damage.
Cosby lost a previous bid to fend off the same lawsuit on similar grounds last year.
Huth, now in her 50s, sued Cosby in December 2014, alleging that he plied her with alcohol and molested her during an encounter at the Playboy Mansion in 1974.
Her lawyer, Gloria Allred, said Huth’s next step would be to take Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s deposition in May.
In Pennsylvania, authorities charged Cosby in December with sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. A judge on Tuesday scheduled a May 24 preliminary hearing in that case, in which prosecutors planned to outline evidence against Cosby. A Pennsylvania appeals court on Monday rejected Cosby’s bid to have the case thrown out.
At least nine other women are suing Cosby for defamation, arguing they were smeared by his public assertions that their allegations were false.
In New York, U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan ruled against Cosby’s effort to compel New York Media LLC to provide access to unedited interviews of six women pursuing a civil lawsuit against him.
Gardephe said Cosby’s subpoena request “bordered on frivolous” and was “wildly inconsistent” with New York’s press shield law, which sets a high standard for when litigants can seek information from media organizations.
“The subpoena, in my judgment, is a fishing expedition,” he said in court. –Reuters