Judge refuses to throw out defamation suit against Cosby

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FILE – In this Nov. 6, 2013 file photo, Comedian Bill Cosby performs at the Stand Up for Heroes event at Madison Square Garden in New York. Cosby’s appearance at Tuscon’s Desert Diamond Casino has been canceled. No reason was given by the casino for the canceled date, which had been scheduled for Feb. 15. In the past week, numerous allegations of sexual abuse by Cosby from a number of women have led to canceled interviews and NBC and Netflix projects. “The Cosby Show” also was pulled off the air on TV Land. Cosby issued a statement Sunday discrediting decades-old accusations and his attorney has denied four of the allegations. (John Minchillo/Invision/AP)

(AP) — A federal judge in Massachusetts has refused to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought against comedian Bill Cosby by three women who say he sexually abused them decades ago.

The ruling Friday is a legal blow to Cosby, who has been accused of sexual assault by dozens of women.

The women claim in their lawsuit that Cosby’s representatives damaged their reputations by denying their allegations in sometimes disparaging language. Cosby’s lawyers had asked the judge to dismiss their suit, arguing that the remarks were personal opinions protected by the First Amendment and legal declarations made in his defense.

But in his ruling Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni rejected Cosby’s bid to dismiss the case before it ever goes to a jury.

The women have accused Cosby of drugging them and then having unwanted sexual contact with them.

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