4 more women join defamation suit against Bill Cosby
BOSTON (AP) — Four more women joined a federal lawsuit against Bill Cosby Friday, claiming the comedian sexually abused them and later defamed them by letting his representatives publicly label their stories lies.
Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis, Louisa Moritz and Angela Leslie join three women already named in the civil suit —Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, and Linda Traitz.
The women say they want compensation after they say Cosby and his representatives tarnished their reputations and made it hard for them to lead normal lives.
They are among dozens of women who have alleged that Cosby, now 78, molested them decades ago. Cosby has denied some of the allegations and has never been charged with a crime.
“There’s no reason that any of the victims of this situation should have to live with a scarlet letter in their lives,” Bowman, an Arizona resident, said in a conference call Friday. “I am not a liar. I am a truth-teller.”
Bowman alleges Cosby won her trust when she was a 17-year-old aspiring actress in 1985, then sexually assaulted her multiple times.
Tarshis, who alleges Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 1969 when she was 19 years old, agreed, adding that she’s been publicly ridiculed for coming forward. This past spring, she says, a woman drove by in car and spat at her and called her a liar.
“I was incredibly shaken by that,” Tarshis, a New York resident, said Friday. “I don’t want to sound like Richard Nixon, but I’m not a liar. Why would anybody lie about something like this? This is not my legacy.”
Bowman, for her part, said she’s never suffered any direct physical or verbal abuse since stepping forward, though she’s changed her shopping habits to avoid crowds and has had trouble finding employment because of her notoriety.
Moritz, of California, is an actress who alleges Cosby sexually assaulted her in a dressing room for “The Tonight Show” in 1969. Leslie, of Michigan, claims Cosby assaulted her while she met with him in his Las Vegas suite in 1992.
Friday’s development comes after a New Hampshire woman filed a separate defamation lawsuit against Cosby earlier this week in federal court in Springfield, Mass., where the seven women’s lawsuit is also playing out.
Marshall Searcy III, who is listed as Cosby’s attorney in the suit by the seven women, declined to comment. Another Cosby attorney, Monique Pressley, did not respond to a request for comment.
Kristina Ruehli says Cosby, who has a home in western Massachusetts, falsely accused her of lying when she came forward last year and said he raped her in 1965 at his Los Angeles home.
And Thursday, in a separate defamation lawsuit filed in California by model Janice Dickinson, an appeals court temporarily halted an order requiring Bill Cosby and his former attorney to give sworn testimony. The order put plans to depose Cosby and his longtime attorney on hold for now.
Cosby has so far been named in six separate civil lawsuits. Separately, prosecutors in Pennsylvania and California could still bring criminal charges against him
Joseph Cammarata, who represents the seven women but not Ruehli, says he does not expect any other alleged victims to come forward with defamation lawsuits. The statute of limitations expires Nov. 21, he noted.
The seven women in Cammarata’s suit say Cosby defamed them when his representatives — including the comedian’s longtime attorney, Martin Singer, who he recently fired — issued public statements in 2014 denouncing their stories as absurd and untrue.
“These people were held up to public ridicule and a character assassination when they came forward to tell their story of abuse or assault at the hands of Mr. Cosby,” Cammarata said. “This is their opportunity to have their day in court and to attempt to restore their good name and reputation.”