Supreme Court refuses to hear Bill Cosby defamation lawsuit

The Supreme Court is declining to revive a defamation lawsuit against Bill Cosby that was filed by a woman who says he raped her and later spread lies about her when she came forward.

The high court on Tuesday rejected an appeal from actor Kathrine McKee, who said Cosby raped her in 1974. McKee sued Cosby for damaging her reputation after a lawyer for the comedian allegedly leaked a letter attacking McKee. Two lower courts ruled against her and dismissed the case.

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Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with the Supreme Court’s action, but called for the court to reconsider the very high standard a public figure needs to meet to win a defamation case. That standard was laid out in the landmark New York Times v. Sullivan case in 1964.

Cosby, after being moved in prison two weeks ago, now has a single cell in a two-storey unit at the newly built SCI-Phoenix in Montgomery County. Wyatt said he’s in a unit reserved for veterans, something the prison would not confirm. He had earlier been in a private cell and day room near the infirmary.

Cosby believes he is a “political prisoner,” targeted for his social and political views much like heroes Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, Wyatt said.

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“He said, ‘They want to entrap me to say I’m remorseful, or to say I did something I didn’t do.’ I’m not going to fall for it,” Wyatt said.

A jury at a retrial last year convicted Cosby of three counts of felony sex assault. He is appealing the conviction.

Dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual assault or misconduct over a 50-year span, including five who testified at the retrial. Cosby and his lawyers and agents have repeatedly called the encounters consensual.

Cosby, a Philadelphia native, rose to fame in the 1960s as the first black actor to star in a primetime television drama with the hit show, I Spy. He became known as “America’s Dad” for his portrayal of family man Cliff Huxtable on the top-ranked Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992, a show that helped his fortune reach an estimated US$400 million.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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