*A federal judge in Massachusetts has thrown out a defamation lawsuit against Bill Cosby by Katherine McKee, an actress who claimed he raped her in 1974, according to court documents.
A 2014 New York Daily News article first reported of McKee’s sexual assault allegation. After its publication, Cosby wrote a letter to the paper denying the claim. His lawyer asked the paper to retract the article, according to Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt.
McKee sued the comedian for defamation, seeking monetary and punitive damages, according to court documents. McKee filed the lawsuit at the end of 2015, one year after the article was published.
U.S. District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni ruled that McKee had not proven that Cosby had defamed her simply by denying her claims.
“An accused person cannot be foreclosed, during their responsive navigation, from considering the issuance of a simple and unequivocal denial — free from overall defamatory triggers or contextual themes,” he wrote in the decision. “Such a situation would be inconsistent with basic First Amendment principles.”
Cosby’s team agreed with the court’s ruling.
“This is another in a line of recent developments vindicating Mr. Cosby’s right to defend himself in the face of an onslaught of unverified accusations,” Wyatt told CNN in a statement.
McKee told CNN on Thursday she is “very disgusted” with the court’s ruling, with no further comment.
Cosby has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 50 women. This is the second of his cases to be dismissed. In January 2016, a federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a civil defamation lawsuit against Cosby brought by Renita Hill. Hill publicly accused Cosby of rape back in 2014, and she sued him for defamation in October 2015.
Andrea Constand, an employee at his alma mater, Temple University, was the first woman to publicly accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct, in 2004. Cosby is set to stand trial on June 5 in the Constand case in Pennsylvania. He faces three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault.