SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A 72-year-old New Hampshire woman who says Bill Cosbyraped her in 1965 withdrew her civil defamation lawsuit against the comedian on Friday, a day after a federal judge had allowed the case to move forward.
Kristina Ruehli’s lawyer said her client had decided not to pursue the case because the legal landscape has changed since she first filed suit in November. Cosby now faces criminal prosecution in Pennsylvania and similar civil actions are in play in Massachusetts and elsewhere by dozens of other accusers.
“Ms. Ruehli is 72 and her husband just celebrated his 79th birthday,” Megan Deluhery, Ruehli’s lawyer, said. “She will watch the pending cases proceed in solidarity with other survivors, those known and unknown, while returning her focus, if she can, on her daily life and trying to put behind her all the pain this ordeal has caused her.”
Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt responded that the comedian hopes more lawsuits are dropped or dismissed and that Cosby looks forward to fighting the rest before a jury in court. But most of the civil litigation is on temporary hold while Cosby fights charges of sexual assault dating from a 2004 encounter at his home outside Philadelphia.
Wyatt also noted Ruehli’s is the second defamation case against his client to be dismissed this year. In January, former teen actress Renita Hill’s civil suit was dismissed by a federal judge in Pittsburgh who ruled that the Cosby camp’s comments were protected by the First Amendment.
“For those in the media who accepted every allegation raised without question or evaluation, they need to answer the well-known question with respect to Mr. Cosby, ‘Which office do I go to get my reputation back?’,” Wyatt said in a statement.
Deluhery countered that Ruehli’s dismissal, unlike Hill’s, was voluntary and had “nothing to do” with the merits of the case.
Bill Cosby has been ordered to stand trial on sexual assault charges after a hearing that hinged on a decade-old police report in which a woman said the comedian gave her three blue pills that put her in a stupor, unable to stop his advances.
Ruehli filed a notice to voluntarily dismiss the suit without prejudice, meaning she could refile it. It came after a judge in Springfield, near where Cosby has a home, rejected the comedian’s bid to dismiss the case Thursday.
Like other alleged victims seeking civil judgments against Cosby, Ruehli argued that Cosby falsely accused her of lying and tarnished her reputation when she came forward in 2014 to say he raped her.
Ruehli, who lives in Windham, near the Massachusetts state line, had said in her lawsuit that she met Cosby while working as a secretary at a Los Angeles talent agency when she was 22 years old.
She said Cosby invited her and others to a party at his home. Ruehli, who was named Donna Czapla at the time, says she took two drinks from Cosby and passed out, only to wake up naked and in Cosby’s bed. She says Cosby was trying to force her to give him oral sex.