Cosby’s Assault Defense Promts Libel Claim

     BOSTON (CN) – A woman Bill Cosby branded as a liar for accusing him of drugging and trying to rape her has filed a federal defamation complaint against the comedian.
     Kristina Ruehli says she kept quiet about her experience with Cosby for 40 years until she recognized herself in assault allegations that a woman named Andrea Constand had lobbed against Cosby in 2005.
     Though Ruehli was one of 13 “Jane Does” to join that lawsuit as plaintiffs, the salacious case was soon sealed, settled and all but forgotten.
     The accusations resurfaced nearly a decade later, however, after a stand-up bit by comedian Hannibal Burress went viral.
     As more women began publicly coming forward with accusations against Cosby last year, Ruehli shared her story with a reporter for Philadelphia Magazine on Nov. 20, 2014.
     The article ran the next day, prompting Cosby to release a statement through his attorney about “media vilification.”
     In a federal complaint filed Monday in Massachusetts, Ruehli says the statement is defamatory for having essentially called her “a liar.”
     “It is one thing for an accused sexual assailant to remain silent and allow the legal process, or public opinion, to run its course, but it is quite another for him to unleash his agents to deny that he attacked the plaintiff and other women, to invite others to republish his statements, and to brand them as unreliable liars,” the complaint states.
     Ruehli says she went by the name Donna Czapla when she met Cosby in 1965.
     At the time, Ruehli was 22 and working as a secretary for Artists Agency in Los Angeles, according to the complaint.
     She says Cosby invited her to a party at his home one day, but that the house was nearly empty when she arrived.
     After downing two drinks prepared by Cosby, Ruehli passed out and awoke naked to find the entertainer trying to force his penis inside her mouth, according to the complaint.
     As quoted by Ruehli, Cosby’s statement through attorney Martin Singer last year complained about women with “new, never-before-heard claims” coming forward “with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40, or even 50 years ago.”
     In addition to bemoaning the “absurdity” of such claims, the Singer statement called it “illogical” for a woman to sit on assault claims against a “rich, powerful” man for decades.
     Now a resident of New Hampshire, Ruehli says Cosby defamed her since he knew that “his own pattern of drugging and sexually assaulting women” dated back to at least 1965.
     Furthermore, he knew that her 2014 testimonial was similar to the allegations he settled years earlier, according to the complaint.
     Ruehli is represented by Megan Deluhery of Todd & Weld.

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