Janice Dickinson, 61, filed a suit against Cosby in Los Angeles County Superior Court in May 2015, claiming he drugged and raped her in 1982 and then branded her a liar in November 2014 when she went public with the allegations.
Bill Cosby’s legal team argues that public statements in the comedian’s defense are not defamatory.
Janice Dickinson public persona could not have suffered from being called a liar.
Today, Bill Cosby filed an opening appellate brief in the ongoing case against reality television personality Janice Dickinson. The brief asks the California Court of Appeal to consider whether a person (or his lawyer) should be allowed to proclaim his innocence publicly when faced with serious allegations of misconduct in the international press.
Statement Of Angela C. Agrusa, Attorney For Bill Cosby:
In November 2014, as Mr. Cosby faced an onslaught of decades-old, unverified accusations of sexual assault, Ms. Dickinson went on national television and claimed for the first time that in 1982 she was assaulted by Mr. Cosby. However, in her 2002 autobiography and in an interview with the New York Observer, Ms. Dickinson described that alleged encounter very differently: that Mr. Cosby invited her to sleep with him, and when she refused, he turned cold and slammed a door in her face. It was only after other women came forward against Mr. Cosby in 2014 that Ms. Dickinson changed her story in a series of public appearances, claiming she was “raped.” Mr. Cosby’s then-lawyer issued statements to the press, calling out Ms. Dickinson for her self-serving change of story, and Ms. Dickinson sued Mr. Cosby for defamation.
The superior court threw her claim out based on one of the attorney’s challenged statements, but let it proceed on a second. Mr. Cosby claims the court erred and should have dismissed the entire case. In today’s filing, he makes three compelling arguments and cites to a decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which a few weeks ago struck down a similar defamation claim brought against Mr. Cosby by former actress Renita Hill.
First, when someone says that an accusation is a lie and then gives the reasons for that opinion, that is not defamation. That is exactly what Mr. Cosby’s prior lawyer did.
Second, the law permits people to speak out to defend themselves against accusations without risk of being sued for defamation. Courts recognize that it is common sense that a person be able to profess his innocence.
Third, because Ms. Dickinson has cultivated an outrageous public persona, with documented admissions that she has lied in the past, she will have a very tough time showing that her reputation was harmed when his lawyer questioned the truth of her new accusations.
The brief emphasizes that “[b]ecause the failure to vehemently deny accusations may later be construed, interpreted as, or deemed an admission of those allegations,” the statement “is purely opinionated speech articulated by Mr. Cosby’s attorney, intended to convey the message that Mr. Cosby denies the allegations made against him.” “[S]uch a public denial of an equally public allegation is protected speech” under the First Amendment.