SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (CN) – An actress who says Bill Cosby raped her after she appeared once on the comedian’s family-friendly television series is the latest to lose a defamation battle.
Katherine McKee, an ex-girlfriend of legendary entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., spoke about her alleged ordeal with Cosby in a 2014 interview with the New York Daily News.
Unlike the assault allegations Cosby faces from dozens of women around the country, McKee’s story does not involve any claim of drugging.
She says Cosby told her he would take out to a friend’s boat one night in 1974, but that she should first come by his hotel with a platter of ribs. As McKee entered Cosby’s room, according to the complaint, she saw the comedian dressed in only a bathrobe. He allegedly spun McKee around, yanked the panties off from under her dress and forcibly raped her just inside the doorway.
Though the statute of limitations prevents most of Cosby’s accusers from receiving justice as to their alleged assaults, McKee is part of a group who says Cosby defamed them by calling them liars after they came forward.
Cosby’s attorney Martin Singer fired off a letter about McKee when her Daily News interview went to press on Dec. 22, saying there were several reasons to doubt McKee’s credibility and that the Daily News should retract its report.
McKee sued in Massachusetts, where Cosby has a residence, but U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni dismissed her case on Feb. 16.
“The court concludes the opinions as to plaintiff’s credibility are not capable of being objectively verified or disproven,” the Springfield-based judge wrote. “The court also concludes the Singer letter adequately disclosed the non-defamatory facts underlying the opinions so as to ‘immunize his [opinions] from defamation liability.’”
Mastroianni rejected the argument that Singer’s letter necessarily implies that McKee’s allegations are false simply because Cosby had personal knowledge of the incident.
“Individuals publicly accused of misconduct cannot be held completely incapable of issuing any statement in response to the allegation, other than ‘no comment,’” the 39-page opinion states. “They cannot be entirely chilled from navigating, at their own peril, what may be viewed as a web of defamation law to produce a responsive statement that does not subject themselves to liability.”
McKee said she had been friendly with Cosby since their first meeting in 1964 when she worked as a showgirl in Las Vegas. She appeared on “The Bill Cosby Show” in 1971 and says she and Cosby were in Detroit when he raped her in 1974.
Though McKee filed her complaint pro se, she was represented by Manhattan attorney William Salo in the amended complaint she filed in July 2016, a month after Cosby moved to dismiss through his attorneys at the Los Angeles firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
Cosby still faces an unrelated defamation case in Springfield by seven other accusers.
Most of the women accusing Cosby of assault came forward about their decades-old stories only after comedian Hannibal Burress went viral with a stand-up bit about the Jell-O huckster’s image.
Of the dozens of women who have spoken out, former Temple University employee Andrea Constand is the only one to duck the statute of limitations.
Cosby, 79, is set to go on trial later this year in Pennsylvania for his 2005 encounters with Constand.
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