Bill Cosby takes legal hits in abuse cases on both US coasts

Nate Raymond and Steve Gorman, Reuters

Posted at Apr 27 2016 08:13 AM

Courts on both US coasts dealt setbacks to Bill Cosby's legal team on Tuesday, as the comedian kept trying to fight off lawsuits over allegations that he has sexually abused women for decades.

A California judge refused Cosby's second attempt to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a woman who accused the entertainer of sexually abusing her when she was 15 at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, her lawyer said.

In New York, a federal judge ruled against Cosby's effort to compel the publisher of New York magazine to provide access to unedited interviews of six women who are suing him over separate abuse allegations.

More than 50 women have publicly accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them, often after plying them with alcohol or drugs in instances dating back decades. Many of the accusations are too old to be litigated, but they have knocked Cosby, 78, off his pedestal as one of the most popular, family-friendly entertainers in America.

As star of the long-running hit TV program "The Cosby Show" in the 1980s, Cosby played a loving dad and obstetrician who was widely hailed as a model of responsible fatherhood. The comedian now has acknowledged marital infidelity but has denied ever engaging in non-consensual sexual behavior.

California case

Gloria Allred, who represents Cosby's accuser, Judy Huth, said in a statement that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan had sided with her client in ruling that the lawsuit was not barred under the statute of limitations, adding she hoped the case could now "proceed to trial."

The judge, Allred said, dismissed a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress but agreed to allow Huth to proceed "on our theories of sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress."

Cosby lost a previous bid to fend off the same lawsuit on similar grounds last year.

Huth, now in her 50s, sued Cosby in December 2014, alleging that he plied her with alcohol and molested her during an encounter at the Playboy Mansion in 1974.

There was no immediate comment from Cosby's lawyers to the latest decision in California.

In Pennsylvania, authorities charged Cosby in December with sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. A judge on Tuesday scheduled a May 24 preliminary hearing in that case, where prosecutors will outline some of the evidence against Cosby. The scheduling order came one day after a Pennsylvania appeals court rejected Cosby's bid to have the case thrown out.

At least nine other women are suing Cosby for defamation, charging their reputations were smeared by his public assertions that their allegations were false.

In New York, US District Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan ruled against Cosby's effort to compel New York Media LLC to provide access to unedited interviews of six women pursuing a civil lawsuit against him.

Gardephe said Cosby's subpoena request "bordered on frivolous" and was "wildly inconsistent" with New York's press shield law, which sets a high standard for when litigants can seek information from media organizations.

"The subpoena, in my judgment, is a fishing expedition," he said in court.

Marshall Searcy, Cosby's lawyer in the New York case, declined comment.

(Additinal reporting by Piya-Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles and Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and David Gregorio)