The last year has seen more discussion of Bill Cosby’s extra-legal activities than his career moves, and rightfully so—more than 40 women have disclosed that the embattled comedian sexually assaulted them. The statute of limitations has run out in just about every instance, leaving the women with no recourse in criminal or civil court. But when former supermodel Janice Dickinson spoke out last year about her own abuse at the hands of Cosby, she may have restarted the clock. Dickinson filed a defamation suit against Cosby on Wednesday, alleging that Cosby effectively re-victimized her through his attorney’s actions.
Dickinson came forward last November with her account of what really happened in Lake Tahoe in 1982: She said that when she visited Cosby (at his invitation) to discuss her singing career, he allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her. Cosby’s lawyer Marty Singer responded by calling Dickinson’s claim a “lie,” arguing that her recent statements were contradicted by her description of the events in No Lifeguard On Duty: The Accidental Life Of The World’s First Supermodel, her 2002 memoir originally published by HarperCollins imprint Regan Books. Dickinson and her attorney, Lisa Bloom—daughter of Gloria Allred, who is representing several of Cosby’s accusers—claim that the actress and author’s reputation were damaged by Singer’s statements, and are suing for defamation, false light, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In her book, which was co-authored by ghostwriter Pablo Fenjves, the Lake Tahoe encounter ends with an angry and rejected Cosby slamming the door on the former model’s face. According to the complaint, however, Fenjves and Judith Regan, president of Regan Books, talked Dickinson out of disclosing the rape in her memoir to avoid a public-relations nightmare. The defamation suit maintains that the assault was effectively edited out of the memoir at Regan’s insistence, despite Dickinson’s “vehement” objections.
There’s no word on any damages sought; Dickinson has only said that she is seeking justice for herself and the other women. She and Bloom have asked for a jury trial and want to depose Cosby, but we’ll see what good that does them—Cosby’s been mostly tightlipped about the accusations, except when babbling incoherently about them in interviews or making light of the matter in his stand-up act.