Bill Cosby counter-sues woman in sexual assault scandal

Veteran comic Bill Cosby counter-sued a woman on Thursday who says he sexually abused her, accusing her of trying to extort up to $250 000 from him.

Judy Huth (55) filed a lawsuit against Cosby in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, claiming sexual battery and infliction of emotional distress in an alleged assault at the Playboy Mansion in 1974.

But Cosby’s Hollywood lawyer Marty Singer said in legal documents filed on Thursday that Huth’s attorney called him on November 25, initially offering to not proceed with the legal action in exchange for $100 000.

The demand came as new sex abuse allegations against Cosby were surfacing almost daily, and on November 26, Singer spoke again by phone with Huth’s lawyer Marc S Strecker.

“Strecker increased his financial demand from $100 000 and demanded that his client be paid $250 000 in exchange for his client refraining from pursuing criminal or legal claims or going to the media with her claims,” Singer wrote.

Consciously aware
Separately, Cosby’s lawyer sought to undermine a key part of Huth’s legal claim: under California law she had to prove that she had only become consciously aware of the alleged sex abuse within the past three years.

“The only way that an alleged victim of childhood sexual abuse would be able to assert an otherwise time-barred claim is to allege that the psychological injury … had been repressed and was only discovered within the last three years,” he wrote.

But he said Huth had “unsuccessfully tried to sell her story to the tabloids nearly a decade ago. This fact belies the allegation … that plaintiff only just discovered the basis for her claims within the past three years.”

Around 20 women have now accused the 77-year-old Emmy and Golden Globe winner of sexual assault and even rape in alleged incidents dating mostly from decades ago.

In conflict
Cosby is world famous for his role in The Cosby Show that aired in the 1980s and 1990s. But while his lawyer went on the offensive, there were two new setbacks for Cosby on Thursday, with the United States Navy revoking an honorary title of Chief Petty Officer bestowed on the entertainer in 2011.

“The Navy is taking this action because allegations against Mr Cosby are very serious and are in conflict with the Navy’s core values of honour, courage and commitment,” said a Navy statement.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles police chief said his force would investigate any sexual assault allegations against Cosby, regardless of when they date from.

The pledge came a day after a victims’ lawyer challenged the veteran comic to waive his rights under the statute of limitations, protecting him from lawsuits over decades-old alleged attacks.

“We don’t turn people away because things are out of statute,” said Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck. “You come to us, especially with a sexual allegation, we will work with you,” he said.

The Los Angeles Police Department had not received any allegations “at this point” involving Cosby, he added.

More women come forward
On Wednesday three more women came forward claiming Cosby sexually assaulted them, as their lawyer challenged the veteran comic to let himself face legal action over decades-old alleged attacks.

Attorney Gloria Allred who urged Cosby to waive his statute of limitations rights, which limit how long after the fact lawsuits can be filed.

Alternatively, she proposed that Cosby set up a $100-million fund for his alleged victims, and let a panel of retired judges determine the truth or otherwise of their claims. – AFP

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