Defamation Case Against Bill Cosby Sinks on Appeal

Bill Cosby exits the Montgomery County Courthouse after a mistrial was declared in his sexual assault trial in Norristown, Pa., on June 17, 2017.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

BOSTON (CN) — The First Circuit refused to hold an en banc rehearing on unsuccessful defamation claims against Bill Cosby by a woman who said he raped her decades ago.

The Dec. 20 order from the Boston-based federal appeals court clocks in at just one paragraph.

Katherine McKee, an ex-girlfriend of legendary entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., brought the underlying lawsuit back in 2015.

Cosby has faced claims from dozens of women around the country, but McKee’s story differs in that she made no allegation of drugging.

She claims Cosby physically attacked and then raped her at his hotel room in the 1974, three years after appearing in a 1971 episode of “The Bill Cosby Show.” Cosby had allegedly told McKee 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 was part of a group who said 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.

U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni dismissed McKee’s case on Feb. 16, and a three-judge panel of the First Circuit affirmed in October.

McKee is represented by Manhattan attorney F. William Salo. Cosby is represented by Alan Greenberg with the Los Angeles firm Greenberg Gross and John Egan and Robert Quinn with Egan, Flanagan & Cohen in Springfield, Mass.

Cosby, who owns a home in Massachusetts, 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.

The 80-year-old is set to face a retrial in Pennsylvania this year for his 2005 encounters with Constand. A sequestered jury failed to reach a verdict in the first attempt.

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