A civil defamation lawsuit filed by seven women against Bill Cosby has been settled, according to court filings and the plaintiffs’ lawyer, but Cosby says he’s spitting mad about it and blaming his insurance carrier.
Filings in federal court in Springfield, Massachusetts, near one of Cosby’s homes, show the two sides have negotiated a settlement since Cosby went to prison last fall in a separate criminal case in Pennsylvania.
After being convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault last year, Cosby, now 81, is serving a three- to 10-year prison sentence in Pennsylvania while appealing the conviction and sentence.
But according to his spokesman Andrew Wyatt, Cosby had nothing to do with the Massachusetts settlement, and doesn’t even acknowledge there is one.
“Mr. Cosby did not settle any cases with anyone,” Wyatt said. “He is not paying anything to anyone, and he is still pursuing his counterclaims. AIG (Cosby’s insurance carrier) decided to settle these cases, without the knowledge, permission and/or consent of Mr. Cosby.
“Mr. Cosby vehemently denies the allegations brought against him in these defamation suits and he maintains his innocence,” Wyatt said in his statement.
News of the settlement comes after the Supreme Court in February refused to consider a similar defamation lawsuit filed against Cosby by one of his accusers.
The civil suit, one of a half-dozen filed against Cosby in recent years, involves seven women who claim Cosby defamed them when he accused them of lying about their sexual misconduct allegations against him.
The federal judge overseeing the defamation case in Massachusetts must still approve the settlement. The terms are confidential.
Cosby’s countersuit against the seven women, one of whom recently died, is still pending, and Wyatt said he will not drop it.
The plaintiffs are among five dozen women who have accused Cosby of drugging and/or raping them in episodes dating back to the mid-1960s. He has denied their allegations, as he denied the charges on which he was convicted last year.
The plaintiffs are represented by Washington lawyer Joseph Cammarata, who first gained fame representing Paula Jones when she sued President Clinton alleging sexual misconduct.
Cammarata confirmed the case was settled but declined to say anything else. “The plaintiffs’ claims against Mr. Cosby have settled and each is satisfied with the settlement,” he told reporters.
The lawsuit was filed in December 2014 a few months after allegations about Cosby’s sexual misconduct re-emerged and went viral, spurring scores more women, including some famous women, to come forward publicly and detail what they said he did to them.
The lead plaintiff was Tamara Green, who said Cosby raped her in the early 1970s when she was an aspiring model and singer. Later, six other women joined the lawsuit.
Green first told her story in 2005 on the “Today” show and in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and starting in the fall of 2014 she told it to multiple media outlets. Each time, she asserted in the lawsuit, Cosby, through his lawyers or his publicist, denied her allegations, defaming her by declaring them “absolutely false.”
In effect, Green asserted in the suit, every time Cosby through his representatives said he didn’t do it, he was defaming her. “Thus, by innuendo and effect, Defendant Cosby publicly branded Plaintiff Green a liar,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit was just one of a half-dozen similar civil lawsuits filed against Cosby in different parts of the country by some of his accusers. Some were dismissed and most were largely put on hold while he was on trial in Montgomery County outside Philadelphia on charges he drugged and molested a friend and Temple University colleague, Andrea Constand, at his home in the county in January 2004.
In December 2015, just before the Pennsylvania 12-year statute of limitations was about to expire, and following an election campaign for district attorney in which prosecuting Cosby was a campaign issue, the newly elected district attorney, Kevin Steele, charged Cosby.
In June 2017, Cosby went on trial, which ended in a mistrial after the jury could not agree on a verdict. He was retried in June 2018 and this time he was convicted. His appeal, asserting mistakes by the trial judge and an unfair sentence, is pending before the state appellate court.
In February, the Supreme Court refused to consider a similar defamation lawsuit against Cosby by another one of his accusers, Kathrine Mae McKee. Lower courts concluded that what Cosby said about her didn’t rise to the level of defamation because McKee had become a “limited purpose public figure,” and thus a higher standard prevailed. The justices apparently agreed with that assessment by refusing to hear her appeal.