Bill Cosby won a legal battle against one of his accusers Thursday, an event so rare lately that he tweeted about his legal woes for the first time since December 2015.
A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against Cosby by accuser Katherine McKee, ruling that she had no legal basis to claim the comedian defamed her by defending himself against her accusations.
Cosby was so pleased he tweeted the dismissal order, his first in more than a year responding to developments in his ongoing legal battles, including the criminal charges he’s facing in suburban Philadelphia over a 13-year-old encounter.
Cosby has said virtually nothing in public since the rush of allegations against him began in the fall of 2014. His Twitter account shows his last post was a thank you to friends and fans, in December 2015. He started posting again in January of this year but only about civil rights history and heroes. Until Thursday.
McKee, one of some 60 women who have accused Cosby of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them in episodes dating back decades, came forward in late 2014 along with other women, claiming her friend of eight years had raped her in a hotel room in the 1970s.
When Cosby and his lawyers denied these and other accusations, some of the accusers sued him in civil court in several states for defamation, asserting that he and his team had suggested they were liars and extortionists by saying he didn’t do it.
“An accused person cannot be foreclosed … from considering the issuance of a simple and unequivocal denial — free from overall defamatory triggers or contextual themes. In the court’s view, such a situation would be inconsistent with basic First Amendment principles,” wrote U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni.
“It is paramount in a free society to be able to insist on one’s innocence in the face of serious public accusations, and today’s ruling reinforces that fundamental right,” said Cosby’s current lawyer, Angela Agrusa, in an emailed statement to USA TODAY.
McKee’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment, according to the Associated Press.
This marks the third defamation lawsuit against Cosby that was either withdrawn or dismissed recently, prompting some Cosby crowing. However, another defamation case against him, filed by six accusers, is still pending in the same federal court in Massachusetts.
“Today’s ruling joins a growing list of dismissals of actions against Mr. Cosby,” the Agrusa statement said. “These decisions should also pave the way to the final dismissal of the remaining civil actions pending against Mr. Cosby,” including one brought by former model and reality TV personality Janice Dickinson in California.
But Cosby’s most serious legal problems are far from over. He has been fighting for more than a year state criminal charges of aggravated indecent sexual assault in connection with a 2004 encounter at his suburban Philadelphia home with a Temple University employee. She says he drugged her and molested her; he says it was consensual.
Since the charges were filed in December 2015, Cosby has been repeatedly thwarted in his efforts to get the case dismissed and to prevent some of the other women who have accused him from testifying against him at his trial, scheduled for this summer.
Currently, his lawyers are trying to get the case moved to a different venue due to pretrial publicity. Another pretrial motions hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27.