WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — A Florida woman suing Bill Cosby for defamation said she wants her reputation restored after she was branded a liar by his representatives when she came forward with decades-old sexual assault allegations.
Therese Serignese, of Boca Raton, said her case, which had a brief hearing before a federal judge in Worcester on Thursday, is not about financial compensation but about clearing her “good name.”
“It hurts to be called the things that I have been called,” the 58-year-old nurse said after the hearing, which was the first since the lawsuit was filed in December. “I take pride in my word. I’m an honest person. I came forward with statements of truth. I expect Mr. Cosby to be an honest person as well.”
The lawsuit focuses on the defamation allegations and not the assault allegations.
Thursday’s hearing focused on a request to subpoena records from the lawyers for Andrea Constand, the first woman to file a lawsuit against Cosby for alleged sexual transgressions.
But Cosby’s lawyers argued Thursday that the request was improper and unnecessary. A federal judge denied the motion.
The suit also includes two other women as plaintiffs — Tamara Green and Linda Traitz — who say they have been slandered by Cosby’s representatives after accusing the “Cosby Show” star of sexual misconduct.
The three women are among dozens who have stepped forward in recent years with assault accusations against Cosby, who hasn’t been charged with any crime.
The actor and comedian, who has a home in western Massachusetts, was not present at the hearing Thursday, and his lawyers declined to comment.
In court filings, Cosby’s lawyers have argued that he was merely acting in self-defense when, through his representatives, he made critical statements about his accusers.
Cosby has denied any sexual misconduct and has said he felt his character was under attack after woman after woman made new allegations.
Serignese says Cosby drugged and raped her in a dressing room after a show in Las Vegas in 1976. She says she was 19 years old at the time.
In previous interviews, Serignese has said she willingly stayed with Cosby in Las Vegas for some time after the attack and that the two maintained sporadic contact until 1996.
Green, of California, says Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in her Los Angeles-area apartment in the early 1970s.
Traitz, of Florida, alleges Cosby tried to drug her and then groped her on a Southern California beach in about 1970.
The women seek unspecified monetary damages.
The Associated Press generally does not publish the names of people alleging sexual assault, but Serignese, Green and Traitz have publicly discussed the allegations.
Serignese had been among 13 anonymous women prepared to testify if Constand’s 2004 case had moved forward.
But Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball official, dropped her suit in 2006 after reaching an undisclosed settlement with Cosby.
Lawyers representing Serignese, Green and Traitz were seeking documents related to their clients that they say are the subject of a confidentiality agreement in Constand’s case.
The two sides are next expected in federal court on June 9 for a hearing in Springfield on Cosby’s lawyers’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
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