A federal judge in Massachusetts has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against Bill Cosby by one of his rape accusers, according to CNN.
U.S. District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni ruled Thursday that Katherine McKee, an actress who claimed the comedian raped her in 1974, had not proven that Cosby had defamed her when he denied her accusation.
“An accused person cannot be foreclosed, during their responsive navigation, from considering the issuance of a simple and unequivocal denial — free from overall defamatory triggers or contextual themes,” he wrote in the decision. “Such a situation would be inconsistent with basic First Amendment principle.”
McKee publicly claimed she was raped by the comedian in a 2014 article published in the New York Daily News. Cosby’s legal team hit back by writing a letter to the publication denying the accusation, asking the paper to retract the article. As a result, McKee sued for defamation in 2015.
McKee is one of dozens of women that say they have been sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby, and her case is only the second that has been dismissed in court. In January 2016, a federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a civil defamation lawsuit against Cosby brought by Renita Hill. She sued Cosby for defamation in 2015 after accusing him of rape the previous year. It is not clear how many lawsuits Cosby has pending.
But it is the case involving Andrea Constand, the first woman to publicly accuse Cosby of sexual assault in 2004, that is getting the most coverage. He faces three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault for that case, and is set to stand trial later this summer.
McKee says she plans to appeal the decision.