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Seven who accused Cosby settle defamation suits

Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse on the first day of sentencing in his sexual assault trial on September 24, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

By MARYCLAIRE DALE Associated Press

Seven women who said Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them decades ago and then labeled them liars by denying it have settled defamation lawsuits against the imprisoned actor.

Court documents filed Friday in Springfield, Massachusetts, show a settlement has been reached since Cosby went to prison last fall in a separate Pennsylvania sex assault case. Cosby, 81, is serving a three- to 10-year prison sentence.

Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, said Cosby did not authorize the settlement reached between the women and American International Group Inc., and “vehemently denies the allegations.”

“Mr. Cosby did not settle any cases with anyone. He is not paying anything to anyone, and he is still pursuing his counterclaims. AIG decided to settle these cases, without the knowledge, permission and/or consent of Mr. Cosby,” Wyatt said in a statement.

Courts had ruled that AIG had to pay for Cosby to defend the defamation lawsuits as part of his coverage. Cosby had homeowners and other coverage through AIG.

The judge overseeing the defamation case in Massachusetts must still approve the settlement. The terms were not disclosed in the filings Friday. A message left with AIG’s corporate press office was not immediately returned late Friday.

The plaintiffs are among the dozens of women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. They include Tamara Green, Barbara Bowman and Therese Serignese. Cosby, in a 2006 deposition, acknowledged giving Serignese quaaludes that made her “high” before a sexual encounter in Las Vegas in 1976, when she was 19. Some of that deposition testimony was aired in his criminal case.

“I don’t think he has much to contest the cases with, given his conviction,” said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson. “I don’t know how much resources (he has left). It probably makes sense for both sides to resolve it.”

Joseph Cammarata, an attorney who represents the women, told The Associated Press on Friday that “each plaintiff is satisfied with the settlement.” He declined to comment further.

However, he warned in a status report also filed Friday that his clients would seek to depose Cosby and gather other documents and evidence if Cosby does not drop counterclaims that accuse the women of harming his reputation through their accusations. Wyatt said that Cosby still intends to pursue those claims.

Cosby’s wife, Camille, had been ordered to give a deposition in the defamation case in 2016, after a heated fight over her testimony.

Lawyers for the Cosbys tried to quash her subpoena to testify, saying she didn’t have any relevant information on the women’s claims and that any marital conversations she had with her husband of 50 years were confidential. The judge agreed that marital conversations were private, but the women’s lawyers noted she also served as his business manager throughout their long marriage.

The case had largely been put on hold amid the Pennsylvania criminal case, which involved charges that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted a woman at his home in 2004. The first trial ended in a deadlock in 2017, but a second jury convicted Cosby last year.

Cosby is appealing the conviction. He is being held at a state prison in Montgomery County, outside of Philadelphia.

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