LOS ANGELES — Striking back legally against one of his many accusers, Bill Cosby on Monday filed a defamation suit against model Beverly Johnson, saying that she lied about him in an attempt to “resuscitate her own career.”
The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court contends that Johnson falsely accused Cosby of drugging her at his home in New York to have sex with her in an attempt to “revive her flagging career as a model, actress and public personality.”
In recent years, more than 50 women have accused the comedian and actor of sexual assault or abuse. He has also been sued in recent months for defamation over his camp’s denials of alleged victims’ accusations.
Cosby — who has not been charged with a crime — has denied sexually assaulting women. Last week, he filed a countersuit against seven women suing him for defamation, accusing them of making false accusations for financial gain.
The latest lawsuit involves Johnson — the first black woman featured on the cover of Vogue magazine — who in a personal essay published last year in Vanity Fair accused Cosby of drugging her during a visit to his home in the 1980s.
In the essay, Johnson said she had been reading lines in hopes of landing a small part on “The Cosby Show” when Cosby served her coffee spiked with something.
“I knew by the second sip of the drink Cosby had given me that I’d been drugged — and drugged good,” she wrote in the essay. She said that she cursed at Cosby and eventually he grew irritated, dragged her from his home and put her into a taxi.
Johnson, the lawsuit states, has published her allegations in articles, interviews, television appearances and in her recent memoir, “The Face That Changed It All.”
The model’s “false allegations against Mr. Cosby have been the centerpiece of her attempted resurgence and she has played them to the hilt,” Cosby’s lawsuit states.
Johnson and Cosby never spent any time alone together in the comedian’s home, and a dinner described by Johnson was also attended by Cosby’s wife, according to the lawsuit.
Johnson’s publicist, Ann-Marie Nieves, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Cosby is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, a permanent injunction preventing Johnson from publishing her statements and an injunction requiring her to issue a statement and news release retracting and correcting her “defamatory statements,” Monique Pressley, an attorney for Cosby, said in a statement.
The lawsuit also seeks the removal of the chapter on Cosby from future distribution of Johnson’s memoir and demands that unsold copies of the memoir with the chapter on Cosby be removed from circulation.
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