NEW YORK • Demonstrating that he is still prepared to fight, comedian Bill Cosby struck back on Monday against seven of the women who have accused him of sexual assault and defamation by suing them for defamation and denying their allegations.
The filing, in federal court in Massachusetts, seemed to signal a new aggressiveness on the part of Cosby, 78, who had kept a low profile for months.
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.
The papers, submitted in response to the defamation suit the seven women filed, accuse them of "malicious, opportunistic and false and defamatory accusations of sexual misconduct".
Calling their behaviour "outrageous and morally repugnant", lawyer Monique Pressley said in a statement: "Mr Cosby states plainly that he neither drugged nor sexually assaulted the defendants and that each defendant has maliciously and knowingly published multiple false statements and accusations from fall 2014 through the current day."
Ten women have sued him for defamation in four separate cases, asserting that they were branded liars when his representatives forcefully dismissed their allegations.
The women could not sue him on grounds directly related to their accusations of sexual assault because the statute of limitations for such cases had expired.
Ms Pressley did not respond immediately to the question of whether Cosby plans countersuits in the three other cases.
Recently, he has been complaining in court papers of the damage accusations by many women have done to his reputation and business contracts. On Monday, Boston University became the latest institution to revoke an honorary degree it had awarded him.
In his suit in Massachusetts, he demanded maximum compensation and punitive damages for the "campaign to assassinate Mr Cosby's reputation and character".
Mr Joseph Cammarata, a lawyer for the seven women - Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, Linda Traitz, Louisa Moritz, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis and Angela Leslie - said: "If anyone is surprised by Cosby's actions today, they shouldn't be.
"He's taken a page out of the defence attorney's playbook in an effort to shift the focus of this legitimate inquiry."
NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS