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(Reuters) - Bill Cosby, citing financial pressures, asked a federal judge to dismiss or put on hold a lawsuit in which American International Group Inc seeks to avoid paying for his defense against defamation claims by women who also accused him of sexual abuse.
AIG had in June sued Cosby in Massachusetts and California over homeowner's insurance policies it issued to him in those states. It said these provide coverage for personal injury claims, which include defamation, but not for personal injury claims arising from "sexual, physical or mental abuse."
Cosby is defending against defamation lawsuits by Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, Linda Traitz in Massachusetts, and the model Janice Dickinson in California, spurred by denials by the entertainer or his representatives of claims of sexual misconduct.
In a Monday filing in the federal court in Springfield, Massachusetts, Cosby said he would face "substantial prejudice" by being forced to defend simultaneously against AIG over the policies, and against the women over the defamation claims.
"Forcing Mr. Cosby to fight a four-front battle would demonstrate AIG's complete disregard for the best interests of Mr. Cosby," his lawyers wrote. "Not only does AIG's action bolster the underlying plaintiffs, who will perceive Mr. Cosby as under attack even from his supposed backers, but it splits Mr. Cosby's focus and drains his resources."
AIG spokesman Jon Diat declined to comment on Tuesday.
More than 40 women have accused Cosby, 78, of having drugged and sexually assaulted them within the last several decades.
Cosby has not been criminally charged, and his lawyers have denied wrongdoing on his part.
Green, Serignese, Traitz and Dickinson are also named as defendants in AIG's lawsuits. The New York-based insurer said it was seeking relief that could affect their defamation cases.
The cases are AIG Property Casualty Co v. Green et al, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, No. 15-30111; and AIG Property Casualty Co v. Cosby et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 15-04842.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum