Bill Cosby looks to be getting schooled as to what constitutes public and non-public information by the National Enquirer – in the courts, not the checkout line. “Plaintiff’s claim against AMI must be dismissed in its entirety because the settlement agreement does not prevent AMI from publishing publically available information about Mr. Cosby or his accusers,” said Enquirer owners American Media Inc. in a motion filed this week in federal court in the over 2-month breach of contract dispute.
“In addition, if this Court accepts Plaintiff’s incorrect interpretation of the agreement, he has violated that agreement and cannot seek to enforce it against AMI,” the tabloid’s Philadelphia and NYC lawyers added in their attempt to disentangle themselves from Cosby’s aggressive February 1 suit against them, alleged 2005 sexual assault victim Andrea Constand, her mother and attorneys (read it here).
Calling Cosby and his praetorian guard of lawyers’ interpretation of the 2006 settlement deal “a contractual gag order,” the Enquirer owners go on to slam the actor for litigious bullying and “failure to state a cause of action.” Long story short, once info about Cosby’s supposed actions were out there, as was the case when an apparently previously sealed 2005 deposition in the matter by The Cosby Show creator was made public last summer, then parts of the confidentiality agreement are irrelevant. The fact that Cosby himself discussed the case – well: “This Court has already determined that Cosby engaged in behavior he now alleges violated the Agreement,” the April 18 filing coldly notes.
Constand claimed in early 2005 that Cosby, in actions very similar to what over 50 other women have alleged, drugged and assaulted her in his mansion outside the City of Brotherly Love in early 2004. After then Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor declined to press criminal charges against Cosby, the ex-Temple University employee went through the civil courts. A settlement was reached in the case in 2006.
Supposedly assured of a binding non-prosecution agreement by Castor, Cosby did not use his Fifth Amendment rights and testified in that civil case – hence the decade old deposition made public last summer. In that 2005 depo, Cosby damningly admitted to having multiple prescriptions for Quaaludes in the 1970s and that he intended to give those pills to women he wanted to have sex with.
Cosby also admitted in the September 2005 deposition that he slipped Constand portions of the drug Benadryl, though his attorney at the time objected to the naming of the pills. Last year, Cosby’s lawyers fought hard to keep the deposition and other docs from the case sealed, over concerns that making them public would “embarrass” the once beloved and now widely accused star. Part of that embarrassment was the fact that, as they did, the likes of the National Enquirer and other outlets would report on the revelations.
Long a chronicler of Cosby, sometimes sympathetic and sometimes not, the Enquirer and American Media Inc. was actually first brought into the Constand case in late 2005 over a brief interview with Cosby published that year where the alleged victim claimed the actor had accused her of “extortion.” While not addressing directly if Constand was suing him for money, Cosby’s quote to the Enquirer at the time was, “I am not going to give in to people who try to exploit me because of my celebrity status.”
With all the alleged tales of rape, drugging and other incidents over the decades that have emerged about Cosby, the 78-year old actor now faces criminal charges in the Keystone State over the Constand case that could see him behind bars for up to 10-years if convicted. The Pennsylvania statute of limitations on sexual assault cases is 12 years so newly elected D.A. Kevin Steele was able to lay charges at the end of 2015.
This case against AMI, Constand and more was actually filed under the seal the day before Cosby went to court in Norristown, PA in an unsuccessful attempt to have that matter tossed based on the non-prosecution agreement with Castor from 2005.
As other civil cases swirl around courts all over the country, Cosby has had some success after the Superior Court of Pennsylvania granted a stay in the criminal charges action. The court issued an order on March 1 that temporarily stays the lower court proceedings pending a verdict on the local D.A.’s motion to kill the Cosby’s appeal in the case – like many matters Cosby, that is still before the courts.
Today, Renita Hill filed an appeal in federal court to have her defamation suit restarted. Hill alleges that Cosby drugged and assaulted here back in 1983 when the then 16-year old actress met the actor on the set of Picture Pages. A judge tossed the case earlier this year, citing that statements made by Cosby reps about her were protected by the 1st Amendment. “All three statements are defamatory because they imply that Ms Hill lied about being sexually assaulted,” says Friday’s filing that counters Team Cosby knew her claims were true.
In the Enquirer case, Daniel Segal and Dina Grove of Philly’s Hangely Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller represent American Media Inc. Cameron Stracher is also advising Team AMI. Samuel Silver and John Timmer of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP are representing Cosby with the actor’s main lawyer, Christopher Tayback of L.A.’s Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP also on board.