BOSTON (AP) — Bill Cosby's lawyers asked a federal judge on Friday to throw out a defamation lawsuit filed by three women accusing the comedian of decades-old sexual offenses.
The women, all of whom have stepped forward in recent years, say Cosby's representatives publicly branded them as liars while trying to defend Cosby's innocence.
But Cosby's lawyers say the famous actor was merely acting in self-defense as his character was under attack.
"The law does not require that one stand idly by while he is publicly attacked," the lawyers argue in their 38-page filing. "Instead the law entitles an individual who is accused of serious wrongdoing to rebut the allegations without facing defamation claims."
The lawyers say Cosby denies all of the allegations of sexual misconduct. They also say the three accusers have failed to state a claim for which the courts can grant relief. The three women seek an unspecified amount of money for compensatory and punitive damages.
Tamara Green, a California lawyer, says Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in the 1970s. Therese Serignese says Cosby drugged and raped her in 1976. And Linda Traitz alleges he tried to drug her and then sexually groped her in 1970.
Cosby, who famously starred as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the beloved sitcom "The Cosby Show" from 1984 to 1992, hasn't been charged with any crime despite.
At least 15 women have stepped forward in recent years to level various assault accusations. Many of the accusations exceed the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution.
But the scandal has taken its toll on the 77-year-old actor and comedian as he has sought to revive his career with a national stand-up comedy tour.
Cosby has canceled or postponed more than a dozen performances as more accusers have come forward, and women's groups have protested or threatened to rally at many of his public appearances.
Lawyers for the three accusers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. They have until March 20 to file a reply to Cosby's motion to dismiss the suit.
Green originally filed the defamation lawsuit in December 2014 and Serignese and Traitz joined later. The suit is filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield, in western Massachusetts. Cosby has a home in Shelburne Falls, Mass.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
for more features.