Court refuses to revive defamation suit against Bill Cosby

In this Aug. 22, 2017 photo Bill Cosby departs Montgomery County Courthouse after a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case in Norristown, Pa. (AP)
Updated 19 October 2017

Court refuses to revive defamation suit against Bill Cosby

BOSTON: A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a bid to revive a defamation lawsuit against Bill Cosby by an actress who said the entertainer raped her in 1974 and then called her a liar after she made her accusations public in a newspaper interview.
The lawsuit, filed by Kathrine McKee, revolved around a letter that an attorney for Cosby sent New York’s Daily News in 2014 as a wave of women was coming forward to accuse the comedian of a string of sexual assaults dating back to the 1960s.
The statute of limitations on the alleged crimes had long expired, leading some accusers to pursue civil lawsuits, such as McKee’s. The lawsuits and accusations by dozens of women shattered the family-friendly reputation Cosby built in a career highlighted by his role in the 1980s television hit “The Cosby Show.”
Cosby, 80, has denied wrongdoing, saying any encounters with his accusers were consensual. He is awaiting an April retrial in Pennsylvania on charges he sexually assaulted a former basketball coach at his alma mater, Temple University.
McKee argued in her suit that the attorney’s letter to the newspaper called her a liar by saying the article was “defamatory, characterizing her claims as “wild” and suggesting she had a criminal record.
But the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston stood by a lower-court ruling that the entertainer could not be sued over the letter.
The decision found that McKee had made herself a public figure by wading into the controversy with Cosby, rejecting her claim that her dispute with the entertainer was a private one. As a public figure, McKee would have to prove that Cosby acted with malice in his response.
“The web of sexual assault allegations implicating Cosby, an internationally renowned comedian commonly referred to as ‘America’s Dad,’ constitutes a public controversy,” US Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch wrote for the three-judge panel.
William Salo, McKee’s attorney, said he disagreed with the decision and may appeal.
“They’re saying just because a famous person rapes you, you become a public figure if you complain about it,” he said.
Alan Greenberg, a lawyer for Cosby, welcomed the “well-reasoned decision confirming that there was no defamation.”
McKee sued Cosby in 2015, a year after the Nevada resident told the newspaper he raped her in a Detroit hotel room in 1974.

Afghan president faces flak for Eid truce offer

Updated 9 min ago

Afghan president faces flak for Eid truce offer

  • President Ashraf Ghani announced a three-month-long Eid truce with the Taliban on Sunday while marking Afghanistan's 99th Independence Day
  • The Taliban, in turn, announced the release of captured government soldiers on Eid Al-Adha but are silent over truce offer

KABUL: Taliban militants on Monday refrained from openly accepting, or rejecting, President Ashraf Ghani’s three-month-long conditional ceasefire. Dozens of Afghans, however, marched in protest in Kabul against Ghani’s offer, saying the insurgents did not deserve a truce.

The US, Britain, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are among countries that hailed President Ghani’s proposal, made on Sunday evening.

The Taliban had earlier accepted Ghani's truce offer during Eid Al-Fitr and announced a halt to fighting and thousands of them entered government-held areas to celebrate the post-Ramadan festival.

Spokesmen for the Taliban said their leadership had given no instruction whether the group will indeed declare a truce this time around.

The Taliban did say that several government troops captured by the insurgents would be freed on the occasion of Eid and that their release was not linked to Ghani's offer.

A spokesman for Ghani, Haroon Chakhansuri, said on Monday that no Taliban troops were among those the government plans to free on Eid Al-Adha.

Officials at the office of Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said no unilateral truce would be allowed along the pattern of last Eid. At that time, the Taliban observed only three days of ceasefire and attacked government forces across the country while the government enforced a longer truce.

Without the other side's willingness to halt fighting, the ceasefire would be meaningless, they said.

The spokesman for the government-appointed High Peace Council (HPC), Sayed Ehsan Taher, said the body’s findings showed that people wanted a permanent ceasefire between the government and the Taliban.

Afghan lawmakers claim the government seeks a prolonged truce because it is unable to hold both the parliamentary elections slated for October and the presidential election in six months’ time.
Despite international support for Ghani’s ceasefire offer, a group of people in Kabul, led by former intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, staged a protest against it.

“The Taliban only bring the forces of evil into our cities. They only bring death, destruction, and chaos,” one protester, Ejaz Malikzada, said.
Forgetting the crimes of Taliban militants is tantamount to participating in their crimes, said some of the lawmakers in Ghani's administration. Family members of hundreds and thousands of Taliban victims have neither forgiven nor forgotten the atrocities, said one of the lawmakers who asked for anonymity.
“Our city is our home, not a haven for filthy terrorists. The Taliban only bring death and destruction. In a matter of one week, Taliban terrorists murdered 1,000 Afghan National Security Forces and civilians. We cannot let all that blood go in vain,” said Saleh.
The protesters called on the general public not to allow the Taliban to enter government-held areas. Some locals in northern Baghlan province have even vowed to shoot any Taliban on sight if they enter government-held areas as they did the previous time.