SOCAL: Former supermodel sues Bill Cosby for defamation of character

Bill Cosby, (Huffington Post)
Bill Cosby, (Huffington Post)

Lawyers for a former supermodel suing Bill Cosby for defamation want a judge to allow them to depose the comedian and his lead attorney in order to properly oppose a defense motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s case on First Amendment grounds.

Janice Dickinson’s suit, filed May 20, alleges Cosby drugged and raped her in 1982 and later defamed her by falsely calling her a liar in two written statements provided to the media last November. The complaint alleges defamation, false light invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Dickinson seeks unspecified damages.

Dickinson, 60, is among a number of women who have come forward to accuse the 78-year-old Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them.

In documents filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Dickinson’s attorney, Kaprisha Vallecillo, says the automatic stay of discovery imposed after Cosby’s lawyers filed their dismissal motion should be lifted so that the comedian and lawyer Martin Singer can be deposed.

“I am informed and believe that when forced to answer questions under oath about his predatory behavior, Mr. Cosby has admitted to drugging women for the purpose of having sex with them,” Vallecillo states in a sworn declaration. “Yet, he has often branded his victims as liars through his attorneys.”

Vallecillo states that Cosby has “engaged in suppressing the truth of what he did to over three dozen victims over 43 years. Defendant and his attorneys have trashed and maligned the reputations of defendant’s victims.”

Before any of Cosby’s other accusers made their allegations public, Dickinson confided about what Cosby allegedly did to her to friends and business acquaintances, according to Vallecillo’s court papers. They included Dickinson’s friend, Edward Tricomi; Pablo Fenjves, the ghostwriter of Dickinson’s autobiography, “No Lifeguard on Duty;” and Judith Regan, who in 2002 was the president and publisher of ReganBooks, a division of HarperCollins, Vallecillo states in her court papers.

Dickinson disclosed her rape accusation to Fenjves in 2001, but he did not allow the model to mention it in her book because he feared Cosby would sue HarperCollins, Vallecillo states in her court papers. Fenjves acknowledges his concerns in his declaration filed with the plaintiff’s new court papers.

“Unfortunately, I had to tell (Dickinson) that we would not be able to include much of her story in her book, if any, because Cosby was a powerful man and he would undoubtedly sue to protect his reputation,” Fenjves states. “Janice was upset with this decision because she had hoped to include the entire story.”

In her declaration, Regan says Dickinson made the same disclosures to her about Cosby in 2002 and that she tried to get the model’s accusations included in the book, but that lawyers for HarperCollins rebuffed her.

“Ms. Dickinson fought with me about this decision,” Regan says. “She was very passionate about it and very much wanted to include her rape by Mr. Cosby in the book.”

Tricomi, a celebrity hairstylist, says in his sworn statement that Dickinson confided in him about Cosby in 1982.

“At the time … I had no doubt in my mind that she was telling the truth and that … Cosby had drugged and raped her,” Tricomi says.

Dickinson’s suit alleges that Cosby sexually assaulted the plaintiff in 1982 at a Lake Tahoe resort. The statute of limitations for a criminal case has expired, but Dickinson maintains she was defamed when Cosby’s representatives accused her of making up the story in the November statements responding to her accusations.

But in their court papers arguing for dismissal of the lawsuit, Cosby’s attorneys maintain that the statements Dickinson alleges were defamatory were “pre-litigation” documents written in connection with a judicial proceeding and are therefore protected activity under the Constitution. They also address matters of public interest, according to the Cosby lawyers’ court papers.

“The accusations and response are part of a larger public conversation about how to deal with allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct in a manner that is fair to both the alleged victim and the accused,” the Cosby attorneys state in their court papers.

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