SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS —
A federal judge is set to hear arguments on comedian Bill Cosby's request to have dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by three women accusing him of decades-old sex crimes.
Lawyers for Tamara Green, Therese Serignese and Linda Traitz say the women's reputations were tarnished when representatives for Cosby strongly denied their allegations as they became public in recent years.
But Cosby's lawyers, in court filings, counter that the “Cosby Show” star was merely acting in “self-defense” because his character was under attack. They say some of the comments made by his representatives are personal opinions protected by the Constitution while other statements are so old they exceed the statute of limitations.
The women's lawyers plan to argue the “self-defense” argument does not apply when a person knows his accusers are telling the truth.
The three women are among more than two dozen who have accused Cosby of incidents of sexual misconduct, some dating back more than four decades. Cosby has not been charged with any crime.
The hearing Monday morning takes place in the western Massachusetts city of Springfield near where Cosby has a home.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, focuses on the defamation allegations and not the women's assault allegations.
Cosby's representatives have complained the defamation lawsuit amounts to an “end run” around the statute of limitations to criminally prosecute the comedian or file civil claims against him directly related to the alleged incidents.
Model Janice Dickinson also has filed a separate defamation suit against Cosby in a California court after she accused him last year of raping her in 1982.
Green, of California, says Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in her Los Angeles-area apartment in the early 1970s.
Serignese, of Florida, says Cosby drugged and raped her in a dressing room after a show in Las Vegas in 1976. She says she was 19 years old at the time.
Traitz, also of Florida, alleges Cosby tried to drug her and then groped her on a Southern California beach in about 1970.
The Associated Press generally does not publish the names of people alleging sexual assault, but Green, Serignese and Traitz have publicly discussed their allegations.