Andrea Constand reacts at a news conference after Bill Cosby was sentenced to three-to 10 years for sexual assault on Sept. 25, 2018, in Norristown. AP photo by Matt Slocum

A defamation case involving Bill Cosby’s chief accuser and the former prosecutor who declined to prosecute Cosby in 2005 is set to go to trial in federal court.

The trial is scheduled to begin April 23 in Andrea Constand’s suit against lawyer and former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Constand, whose sexual assault allegations against Cosby ultimately led to his conviction earlier this year, has alleged that Castor depicted her as a liar in statements he made in 2015 about his decision not to prosecute Cosby. The civil suit dates back to October 2015, before Cosby was criminally charged. Cosby was found guilty of aggravated indecent assault in April, and was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison.

In an order filed in October, U.S. District Senior Judge Eduardo Robreno focused on two of Castor’s statements from Constand’s complaint, in choosing not to grant Castor’s summary judgment motion.

Bruce L. Castor Jr.

In a 2015 statement to The Associated Press, Castor suggested Constand’s claims in a later civil suit against Cosby went beyond her initial description of Cosby’s conduct. ”If the allegations in the civil complaint were contained with that detail in her statement to the police, we might have been able to make a case out of it,” Castor told the AP at the time.

“The average reader could interpret defendant’s statement alongside his decision not to prosecute Mr. Cosby to mean plaintiff lied, possibly for pecuniary gain. The implication that plaintiff lied in her civil complaint is capable of defamatory meaning,” Robreno wrote.

Even if that statement did reflect an opinion, Robreno said, Castor did not offer reasoning to back up his opinion, and it could have been based on undisclosed information he knew from his time as a prosecutor.

Robreno’s order also pointed to a tweet Castor posted in September 2015: “‘Inky: Cosby victim told police much different than she told court in her lawsuit. First I saw that in a story. Troublesome for the good guys. Not good.’”

Robreno said Castor’s argument that the tweet was literally true, or an opinion, was not convincing enough to grant summary judgment.

Castor filed his own suit against Constand and her lawyers in October 2017 in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, alleging that she only brought her defamation claim in order to ruin Castor’s chances in a 2015 election for district attorney. The suit was dismissed in April, based on preliminary objections. Castor filed an appeal of the dismissal in the Pennsylvania Superior Court, but then filed a praecipe for discontinuance in October.

In an opinion filed Sept. 20, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Ann Butchart said Castor’s second amended complaint “after three attempts … was unable to conform” with Pennsylvania’s Rules of Civil Procedure. She said his complaint failed to state a claim for abuse of process while containing “scandalous and impertinent matters.”

Bebe Kivitz and Dolores Troiani, who have been Constand’s lawyers since she first brought her allegations against Cosby in 2005, are representing her in the defamation suit against Castor.

Castor is represented by Justin Bayer and Robert Connell Pugh of Kane, Pugh, Knoell, Troy & Kramer in Norristown.

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