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Cosby sues 7 accusers for defamation, seeks damages and retractions

Story highlights

  • Counterclaim accuses seven women of making "malicious, opportunistic, and false and defamatory accusations"
  • More than 40 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them

(CNN)Bill Cosby has struck back against some of the dozens of women who've accused him of sexual assault.

The world-famous comedian countersued seven women who'd sued him for defamation, saying they actually defamed him.
    By saying he sexually assaulted them, the women hurt his reputation so much that plans for a new family comedy on NBC were derailed, the counterclaim said.
    The women made "malicious, opportunistic, and false and defamatory accusations of sexual misconduct against" Cosby, his lawyer Monique Pressley said in a statement. They made the accusations to hurt Cosby's reputation and to obtain financial gain, Pressley said.
    Cosby is seeking unspecified damages and public retractions from the seven women: Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, Linda Traitz, Louisa Moritz, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis and Angela Leslie.
    The lawyer for the seven women, Joseph Cammarata, issued a statement on Monday saying his clients want their day in court and "expect that their good name and reputation will be restored."
    "If anyone is surprised by Cosby's actions today, they shouldn't be," Cammarata said. "He's taken a page out of the defense attorney's playbook in an effort to shift the focus of this legitimate inquiry. It is curious that he has filed a claim only against these seven women, when there are scores of other women who have made similar allegations of sexual abuse and assault against Mr. Cosby."
    Cosby also denied he had sexually assaulted any of the seven women. He has not been charged with any crime.
    More than 40 women have come forward to publicly accuse Cosby, 78, of assaulting them over four decades, often saying he supplied them with drugs.
    Cosby's lawyers or representative denied the accusations in the media. For instance, the counterclaim says lawyer Martin Singer responded on November 21, 2014, to Serignese's accusations by saying the "unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they [the women] say occurred 30, 40 or even 50 years ago have escalated far past the point of absurdity."
    Seven of the women sued Cosby for defamation. That resulted in Cosby's counterclaim.
    The accusations have taken a toll on Cosby's reputation as a product spokesman, standup comedian and television star.
    "Mr. Cosby is an Emmy Award winner, a 1998 Kennedy Center Honors recipient, and in 2002 Mr. Cosby was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom," the counterclaim says.
    The counterclaim said the seven women made accusations after he signed a contract in early 2014 for a new family comedy with NBC. He also expected to sign a contract with Netflix. Those projects were killed or delayed, the counterclaim says.
    CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson said Cosby's counterclaim says, "I'm not the liar here. All of you are lying about me."
    Besides defamation, the women are also being sued for tortious interference and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
    Tortious interference, Jackson said, is "a fancy way of saying so many bad things have happened to me -- I've been taken off TV, I've lost honorary degrees -- it's all your fault and I want damages as a result."
    Cosby lost another honorary degree on Monday. The Boston University board of trustees voted to revoke the honorary doctor of humane letters degree conferred on Cosby in May 2014.
    "The board's decision was based on a determination, supported by Mr. Cosby's sworn deposition testimony, that his treatment of women has brought significant and lasting discredit upon himself and is inconsistent with the University's mission and values," the university said in a statement.
    The university seemed to be referring to a deposition Cosby gave in which he said he gave sedatives to women with whom he hoped to have sex.
    Fordham, Marquette and Brown universities have also withdrawn honorary degrees.
    The defamation lawsuit and counterclaim were filed in U.S. District Court for the western district of Massachusetts.
    Supermodel Janice Dickinson filed a separate defamation suit.