The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to weigh whether an actress who publicly accused actor Bill Cosby of rape can sue him for defamation.
The justices denied the appeal from Katherine McKee, who alleged Cosby, through his attorney, spread lies about her in 2014 after she told the New York Daily News he had raped her in a Detroit hotel room in 1974.
McKee said Cosby’s attorney Martin Singer sent a letter on Cosby’s behalf to the news outlet after she publicly identified herself as a victim. In the letter Singer claimed McKee was an admitted liar, he called her not credible and unchaste, and said she had affairs.
But the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling granting Cosby’s request to dismiss the case.
The court said McKee had voluntarily entered into a public controversy and invited public scrutiny of the credibility of her allegations.
As a “limited purpose public figure,” the court said she had to show actual malice based on clear and convincing evidence to succeed.
But McKee argues that she merely confirmed she was one of Cosby’s many alleged victims.
“She has not become a prominent advocate in any public controversy, and has not publicly called for any change in the laws, or any social reform, and has consistently maintained her privacy other than to say, as many other women have said, 'me too,' ” her attorney argued in a court brief.
Cosby’s attorneys argue McKee did far more than just identify herself as an alleged victim. They said she participated in an interview that resulted in both video and print stories, called for Cosby to take a lie detector test, backed the other accusers and spoke about the repercussions he should face.
“It makes no difference that Ms. McKee now claims she did not intend to become a public person. That is not the test,” Cosby’s attorneys argued in a court brief.
“Instead ‘when an individual undertakes a course of conduct that invites attention, even though such attention is neither sought not desired, he may be deemed a public figure.' ”