Bill cosby accuser takes defamation suit to supreme court electricity vs gas heating costs


The case hinges on whether the law views those who allege sexual assault as “public figures” or "private persons." As a public figure, McKee must prove that Cosby acted with “actual malice” and a “reckless disregard for the truth,” by knowingly making false statements, to meet the standard for defamation.

“McKee is seeking to protect the fundamental right of a victim of sexual misconduct to speak out in public without fear of having her reputation and career destroyed,” her lawyers said in a statement. “McKee is asking the Supreme Court to protect this right for all victims of sexual misconduct.” A home in Detroit

McKee lived in metro Detroit for many years as she cared for family here;she moved to the West Coast in 2015 after her mother died. While here, she operated a casting agency when Michigan’s film industry was thriving under now-repealed state tax credits. McKee said she now commutes between Hollywood and Las Vegas for her work.

McKee alleges that Cosby raped her about 1974 at the Detroit St. Regis hotel. She said she stayed in town to visit with her family after Sammy Davis Jr. had performed in Detroit. Cosby was in Detroit for a performance and invited her to a boat outing, while also asking her to get him some ribs from a favorite Detroit joint.

“Ms. McKee stepped a few steps into the hotel room when she was immediately set upon and physically attacked by Cosby. Cosby snatched the ribs from her hand and tossed them aside. Cosby was wild and aggressive, and was acting nothing like the man Ms. McKee had known professionally. Cosby violently lifted her dress and pulled down her panties. Cosby intimidated, terrified and terrorized Ms. McKee with pain and overwhelming physical force. Cosby proceeded to forcibly rape Ms. McKee while both were still standing very near the door. The rape was an unprovoked and violent attack. The rape was shocking, scary and horrible.”

In late 2014, as a cascade of accusations unfolded against Cosby, McKee told her story to the New York Daily News. She appeared on the cover of New York magazine for its August 2015 issues, along with 34 other women who said they were assaulted by Cosby. She also was interviewed for a July 2015 Free Press article about Cosby’s accusers.

McKee, the daughter of an African-American father and a Finnish-American mother, said Cosby’s case shouldn’t be evaluated on the basis of race. Some have said Cosby has been treated more harshly in the media and in the courts because he’s black.

Another metro Detroit woman, Angela Leslie, also accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. Leslie is a civilian logistics expert for the U.S. Army in Warren, and she was a model and actress who came to Cosby’s attention. She said Cosby forced her to fondle him in a Las Vegas hotel room in the early 1990s, when he offered to help her with acting tips.

Leslie declined to comment for this article, saying she was following the advice of her attorney, Joseph Cammarata, of Washington D.C. Leslie is part of a lawsuit with several other Cosby accusers, also filed in Massachusetts, seeking damages for defamation. That case is on hold. Her lawyer did not return requests for comment. Besides claims by McKee and Leslie, there are other outstanding lawsuits against Cosby by his accusers.

McKee’s case first was thrown out by a U.S. District Court judge in Boston in February 2017, and the dismissal upheld by a three-judge panel in October 2017. Cosby has a legal residence in Massachusetts, which makes it possible for him to be sued in that state.

Attorney Alan Greenberg of Los Angeles defended Cosby against McKee’s charges of defamation. Greenberg argues that McKee became a “public figure” when she gave an interview to the New York Daily News in December 2014, her first public account about Cosby. McKee says her reputation was damaged because another Cosby lawyer wrote a letter to the newspaper, contending her claims were “wild” and wrongly linking her with other accusers’ criminal records.

McKee is a “limited person public figure and she attained that status because she came forward in accusing Cosby of rape,” explained Briggs-Bunting, former director of the Michigan State University School of Journalism. “By her own action, she thrust herself into the middle of the vortex. She made herself part of the story.”

While McKee’s lawyers say such rulings could deter other victims of sexual misconduct from coming forward, Briggs-Bunting points out that the law protects free speech rights, and the media’s ability to publish stories on controversial issues and topics