LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Bill Cosby on Tuesday (March 29) lost his bid to throw out a defamation lawsuit brought against the comedian and his former lawyer by supermodel Janice Dickinson, clearing the way for a trial in the sensational case.
Dickinson claims in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that Cosby and his former attorney, Mr Martin Singer, defamed her when they told the media that she had invented her account of being drugged and raped by Cosby in 1982.
"It was a big victory for us today and we're very, very pleased," said Dickinson's attorney, Ms Lisa Bloom.
"The court ruled that we will go to trial against Bill Cosby. We've been fighting for almost a year so Janice Dickinson can prove her claims of defamation against him," Ms Bloom said.
The attorney representing Cosby, 78, in the defamation suit, Mr Christopher Tayback, referred calls by Reuters to a spokesman. Mr Singer could not immediately be reached on Tuesday.
Dickinson, 61, is among more than 50 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault, often after allegedly plying them with drugs or alcohol.
Most of the alleged assault cases date back years or decades and are too old to be grounds for criminal prosecution against Cosby, best known for his "America's Dad" persona Dr Cliff Huxtable on the top-rated Cosby Show.
Pennsylvania prosecutors late last year filed charges against Cosby related to an alleged 2004 sex assault, just days before the statute of limitations was about to expire. He is currently awaiting trial.
In her lawsuit against Cosby, filed last May, Dickinson recounts a 1982 incident in which the comic invited her to dinner in Lake Tahoe, California. She believed she was drugged and raped that evening, but did not tell the police for fear of retaliation.
She came forward with the story in 2014, after other women began disclosing similar episodes.
In response, Cosby released statements disputing her claims, including the comment: "Ms. Dickinson completely fabricated the story of alleged rape."
The lawsuit says that Dickinson's business prospects are suffering from what she considers a humiliation. The model became known for her reality television show, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, which ran from 2006 to 2008.
Seven other women have sued Cosby for defamation on similar grounds in a separate legal action. Lawyers for Cosby and the women both told a federal judge last week that they were open to settling the matter.