Cosby sues Constand, lawyers over alleged breach

Posted: February 19, 2016

A day before the pivotal pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case this month, Bill Cosby sued his accuser, her lawyers, and others over an alleged breach of confidentiality agreements they signed to settle a lawsuit more than a decade ago, according to court filings.

Filed Feb. 1, the latest suit had been sealed by the same federal judge in Philadelphia who presided over the claim Andrea Constand filed against Cosby in 2006. U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno partially lifted the seal Tuesday and ordered Cosby's lawyers to file a partially redacted complaint, a step that made public the case docket.

The specific allegations in the new claim are unclear. But its filing underscores the contentious legal fight on the sidelines of the criminal case between lawyers for the 78-year-old entertainer and those who might provide evidence against him.

The defendants include Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz, lawyers who have represented Constand since she first alleged that Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 2004.

Both lawyers testified at the hearing two weeks ago in Montgomery County Court in which Cosby's lawyers failed in their bid to persuade a judge to dismiss the aggravated indecent assault charges against him. At the time, Troiani acknowledged that she had recently been sued by the entertainer, but she has declined to elaborate both on and off the stand since then, citing the seal Cosby's lawyers sought on the litigation.

Cosby's lawyers did not return calls for comment Wednesday, nor did the attorney now representing Troiani and Kivitz.

The 2006 agreement Constand and Cosby signed to resolve her civil claims that he sexually assaulted her included a financial sum and other details that have never been made public. But in the years since, Troiani, Kivitz, and Constand have repeatedly sparred with Cosby and his lawyers over the terms of the pact, and called on Robreno more than once to determine whether either side had breached the settlement.

Such a skirmish appeared to occur Feb. 3, when Troiani was called as a witness in Cosby's first pretrial hearing and was asked how she first learned that prosecutors had reopened an investigation last year into Constand's claims.

Troiani testified that her client had agreed not to initiate any future criminal proceedings against Cosby in her confidentiality agreement, but was insistent that the deal did not bar Constand from cooperating if authorities came to her first.

She told Judge Steven T. O'Neill that she was approached last summer by Kevin Steele, then Montgomery County's first assistant district attorney, who has since been elected to lead the office. Steele asked if Constand would be willing to participate in a new prosecution, Troiani testified, and said he could obtain a search warrant for Troiani's office to obtain her file on the case.

During cross-examination, Cosby lawyer Monique Pressley challenged Troiani over her acknowledgment that she described for Steele the letter he would need to write so that she could voluntarily hand over her file.

"I don't see anything wrong there," Troiani said. "I was not prohibited from explaining to law enforcement how they could get my file."

The breach-of-contract suit filed this month also lists Constand's mother, Gianna, who was party to Constand's confidentiality agreement as a defendant, as well as American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer.

Constand sued the tabloid for libel in 2006 and won a financial settlement, the details of which have not been disclosed.

Robreno has ordered that the filings remain under seal pending a hearing on the matter in April. Cosby, meanwhile, faces a March 8 preliminary hearing on the criminal case, which could determine whether he heads to trial.

jroebuck@phillynews.com

215-854-2608 @jeremyrroebuck

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