BOSTON (Reuters) - Actor and comedian Bill Cosby on Monday sued seven women who had accused him of defaming them, saying they lied when they accused him of sexual assault.
The countersuit, filed in U.S. district court in Springfield, Massachusetts, contends that the women defamed his "honorable legacy and reputation" by accusing him of sexual misconduct.
More than 50 women have come forward to accuse the actor, best known for his role in the 1980s television hit "The Cosby Show," of sexually assaulting them after plying them with drugs or alcohol.
Cosby has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and has never been criminally charged. Many of the alleged incidents occurred decades ago and, so the statute of limitations for prosecuting them has long run out.
"Relying solely on unsubstantiated accusations, counterclaim defendants have engaged in a campaign to assassinate Mr. Cosby's reputation and character by willfully, maliciously, and falsely accusing Mr. Cosby of multi-decade-old purported sexual misconduct," the 78-year-old actor's attorneys wrote in court papers charging the women with defamation, tortious interference and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Cosby's countersuit to the lawsuits - first filed in December 2014 and charging him with libel, assault and slander - seeks unspecified financial damages. The suits contend that Cosby slandered his alleged victims by calling them liars when they publicly accused him of sexual assault.
"Bill Cosby appears to be going to war against women who have sued him in Massachusetts and who allege that he has victimized them," said attorney Gloria Allred, who represents several women who have sued the comedian, thought not the people involved in the Massachusetts case. "Such a tactic will not deter courageous women from fighting the battle against him."
Cosby testified in 2005 that he had obtained the sedative drug Quaaludes, popular in the 1970s, with the intention of giving them to young women in order to have sex with him, according to court documents unsealed in July as part of a separate legal proceeding against him.
Reporting by Scott Malone; Additional reporting by Daniel Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by James Dalgleish and Steve Orlofsky