The legal drama that entertainer Bill Cosby has endured of late continues to mount, but there was a bit of a reprieve on Thursday. A federal judge moved to throw out a civil suit filed against Cosby, although there are dozens of other accusers awaiting their day for justice.
The defamation lawsuit was filed by 48-year-old Renita Hill of Pittsburgh last October, who alleged that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her for years starting from when she was just a teenager. U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab threw out the case and cited that it was “with prejudice,” which means she cannot file another such matter again.
As reported by USA Today and Pittsburgh news outlet WTAE, Hill went public with her side of the story in November 2014 after several other women also stepped forward to accuse Cosby with varying degrees of sexual assault. Hill stated in her lawsuit that she was depicted as a “liar” and for trying to extort funds from Cosby after he, his wife and legal team denied the allegations.
Judge Schwab sided with Cosby’s legal team, stating that the denials made were protected under the First Amendment.
“Even considering these three statements together as a combined, single statement, this newly ‘conjoined’ statement does not lead to an inference that plaintiff is a ‘liar and an extortionist,’” the judge wrote.
Cosby’s attorneys referred questions to a spokeswoman who didn’t immediately comment on the ruling.
Hill’s attorney, George Kontos, promised to appeal saying he strongly disagreed with the judge’s reasoning.
Hill claims she met Cosby on the set of the show Picture Pages in 1983. She was 16 at the time and says that the molestation and assaulted continued for four years after their initial meeting.
Cosby is facing a similar defamation lawsuit in Manhattan filed by seven of his accusers who also claim that Cosby’s legal team is framing them as liars out for money.