Bill Cosby Moves to Dismiss His Lawsuit Against Beverly Johnson -- For Now

by Sophie Schillaci 2:57 PM PST, February 25, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

Bill Cosby is putting his defamation lawsuit against Beverly Johnson on hold.

The 78-year-old comedian filed to dismiss his defamation lawsuit against Johnson last week, as he focuses his attention on the sexual assault charge he's currently facing in Montgomery, Pennsylvania. A rep for Cosby says that his decision to dismiss the case was voluntary, and that his team expects to re-file again at a later date.

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"The case has been voluntarily dismissed at this time due to the pendency of the criminal proceedings in Montgomery County, PA, which impede Mr. Cosby's ability to fully participate in litigating the civil case against Ms. Johnson," a statement from his publicist reads. "We fully expect to re-file the complaint against her prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations."

Johnson also gave a statement to ET, which reads, "It has come to my attention that Mr. Cosby has dropped his suit against me. However, this is not my conversation, rather a collective one on the America we create through public discourse when it comes to victims of abuse and the respect we carry for women."

Cosby filed suit against Johnson in December in response to the 63-year-old model's allegations that she "felt drugged" after sipping from a cappuccino that Cosby allegedly offered her in the mid-1980s. Johnson's claims were published in a 2014 Vanity Fair article, as well as her 2015 memoir.

"Mr. Cosby states that he never drugged the defendant and her story is a lie," a press release from Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, read at the time of the filing. In his lawsuit, Cosby was seeking "compensatory and punitive damages," as well as injunctions to stop further publication of Johnson's claims, and a statement "retracting and correcting her defamatory statements, including removal of the chapter on Mr. Cosby from future distribution of defendant's memoir and for unsold copies of the defendant's memoir with the chapter on Mr. Cosby to be removed from circulation."

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Earlier this month, Cosby faced a setback in court as Judge Steven O'Neill rejected his request to have his aggravated indecent assault charge dismissed in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. This means that the comedian could potentially face trial.

Cosby was charged in December for an alleged incident that is said to have taken place in January 2004. Former Temple University employee Andrea Constand has accused Cosby of drugging and violating her at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion. Cosby has denied any wrongdoing.

The charge against Cosby carries a maximum penalty of 5-10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

WATCH: Bill Cosby Appears in Court for Sexual Assault Charge -- Former D.A. Explains Why He Didn't Prosecute