A U.S. federal judge dismissed a defamation law suit brought against Bill Cosby by a Pennsylvania woman yesterday.
The woman, Renita Hill, 48, claimed that Cosby had defamed her when he accused her of lying and extortion when she said she had been sexually assaulted by him in the 80s.
The statements were reportedly made by Cosby and his representatives in response to Hill’s public accusation of the sexual assault in 2014.
But U.S. district judge Arthur Schwab dismissed her claim, saying that the statements “do not support a claim for defamation defined by Pennsylvania law”. He also said that the remarks were protected under free speech and that Hill couldn’t prove that the comments harmed her, Reuters reported.
Cosby’s lawyers welcomed the decision, saying they are hopeful it may influence other pending lawsuits against their client, who has now been accused of sexual assault by more than 50 women.
“The Court found opinionated speech by a defendant's attorney is protected and not actionable as defamatory,” Cosby’s representatives said in a statement.
“It is our hope that courts in other jurisdictions with similar matters will respond in like manner.”
Hill’s attorneys said that Cosby had mentored Hill as a young woman and paid for her education before arranging meetings in Atlantic City, New York and Denver, where they claim he sexually assaulted her.