October 15, 2015 / 7:44 PM / 2 years ago

Pittsburgh woman sues Bill Cosby for defamation, alleges sex abuse

(Reuters) - A Pittsburgh woman said on Thursday she had filed a defamation lawsuit against comedian Bill Cosby for comments made by his representatives after she spoke publicly of alleged sexual misconduct in the 1980s.

Actor Bill Cosby attends the American Comedy Awards in New York April 26, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Renita Hill, 48, is one of more than 50 women who have come forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault dating back to the 1960s.

Hill’s attorney told a news conference in Pittsburgh that she met Cosby when she was about 16 and appeared in his educational TV show “Picture Pages.”

Cosby portrayed himself as a mentor to Hill and her family, and said he wanted to oversee her education and help her with her career. He arranged meetings in Atlantic City, New York City and Denver where he abused her, her attorney George Kontos said.

Cosby paid for Hill’s education at Temple University and Spelman College, but she later decided to end contact with him and he stopped making the payments, Kontos said.

Hill stayed silent about her experiences until November 2014, when she gave an interview to a local Pittsburgh TV station after becoming emboldened by other women who had come forward, according to Kontos.

Cosby’s representatives responded by depicting Hill as a liar and an extortionist who was out for money, Kontos said.

“We intend to prove that those claims were false and that they were meant to intimidate her and that they caused her much emotional distress and harm,” Kontos told the news conference.

Hill cannot bring a sexual assault claim because the statute of limitations has expired, Kontos said.

But she said she hoped the defamation lawsuit would be “one more step toward seeking justice for what happened to me and in holding Bill Cosby accountable for the false allegations that he’s made against me.”

Cosby, 78, could not immediately be reached for comment. His lawyers have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing by the comedian and he has never been criminally charged over the allegations made his dozens of accusers.    

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Eric Beech

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