Three women who've accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct have taken aim at the embattled comedian in a new court filing, saying that he's trying to "infect" their defamation case against him and "shirks any responsibility" for the harm that he has allegedly caused.
Tamara Green, Therese Serignese and Linda Traitz are suing Cosby for defamation, saying that the comedian has maligned them by denying, through spokespersons, their claims against him.
Cosby filed a motion to dismiss the suit in February, claiming, among other things, that the denials in question were made by his spokespeople, not the comedian himself.
"Although the complaint is filed against Mr. Cosby, it is his publicist and his attorneys who are alleged to have made the relevant statements," Cosby's team contended.
Papers filed late Friday on behalf of the plaintiffs blast that argument.
"In Defendant Cosby's Motion to Dismiss, Defendant Cosby claims a privilege to defame where none exists; tries to shield himself from liability, by hiding behind the actions of his spokespersons; tortures the plain defamatory meaning of the statements at issue; and infects the Motion with irrelevant matters, in an attempt to prejudice the court," the new papers read.
Cosby's team also argued that the comedian has the right to defend himself against the allegations.
"The law does not require that one stands idly by while he is publicly attacked. Instead, the law entitles an individual who is accused of serious wrongdoing to rebut the allegations without facing defamation claims," Cosby's filing last month read. "Statements made in self-defense are privileged, and cannot form the basis of a defamation action.”
Again, the accusers take issue in the new filing.
"Defendant Cosby claims that, under a so-called 'self-defense privilege,' he enjoys a license to lie about anyone who truthfully accuses him of misconduct," the new filing reads. "The law does not permit a defendant to attack an accuser in 'self-defense,' when the defendant know that the accuser is telling the truth."
Cosby, the accusers contend, "refuses to take ownership of the statements and shirks any responsibility for the harm they caused."
The lawsuit stems from a statement published by Newsweek published on Feb. 7, 2014; another published by the Washington Post on Nov. 22, 2014, and a pair of statements issued by Cosby’s attorney, Martin Singer, on Nov. 20 and 21.
In recent months, Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by numerous women, with a common theme being that Cosby drugged his alleged victims beforehand. Cosby's attorney, Martin Singer, has denied the claims.
In the wake of the accusations, Cosby has suffered some career setbacks, with Netflix postponing a comedy special that was to have aired late last year, and NBC shelving a comedy that it was developing as a possible starring vehicle for Cosby.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.