On the eve of a critical hearing in his criminal case earlier this month, Bill Cosby sued the two lawyers for the woman who accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting her, according to court records.
The timing of the legal action meant that what was already a dramatic scene two weeks ago inside a courthouse in Norristown, Pa., had extra meaning for the two lawyers, Dolores M. Troiani and Bebe H. Kivitz, who have tenaciously challenged Mr. Cosby in representing their client, Andrea Constand, over the past 11 years. Both testified in a pretrial hearing knowing that they were the subject of a separate civil action. Only on Tuesday did Judge Eduardo C. Robreno of United States District Court in Pennsylvania lift the seal on parts of the civil case.
The hearing, in Montgomery County court, was over whether the criminal case against Mr. Cosby could proceed. The judge, Steven T. O’Neill, later ruled it could go forward.
The suit, which was filed in United States District Court in Pennsylvania and initially placed under seal, underscores how aggressive and multifaceted Mr. Cosby’s legal strategy has become in combating the numerous civil cases and the criminal case against him.
Anne Poulin, a law professor at Villanova University who is unconnected to the case, said that filing a lawsuit of this kind while a related criminal case was ongoing was unusual, and that the Pennsylvania lawsuit could be an alternate attempt by Mr. Cosby to buy time.
“Obviously they’re trying to fight on as many fronts as they can,” Ms. Poulin said.
The exact nature of the suit is unclear, because it is still partly under seal.
But one concern of the Cosby legal team has been the degree of any cooperation between Ms. Troiani and Ms. Kivitz with the Montgomery County district attorney, Kevin R. Steele, who is trying to bring Mr. Cosby’s criminal case to trial.
In an initial investigation in 2005, a predecessor of Mr. Steele decided not to bring charges against Mr. Cosby after Ms. Constand accused Mr. Cosby of sexually assaulting her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
In a subsequent civil suit, she won a financial settlement from Mr. Cosby, in 2006. But the terms were kept secret under a confidentiality agreement.
Since then, Mr. Cosby’s lawyers have repeatedly accused Ms. Troiani and Ms. Kivitz of breaching that agreement.
During the hearing in Norristown, Ms. Troiani was cross-examined by Mr. Cosby’s lawyer Monique Pressley about how Mr. Steele reopened the criminal investigation.
Ms. Troiani said Mr. Steele called her and asked to come to her office. She said he asked her to approach Ms. Constand about cooperating in the new investigation.
“I did not go to him,” Ms. Troiani testified. “He initiated the contact,” she added.
But she explained, she said during cross-examination, what the settlement required Mr. Steele to do in order to obtain her file on the Cosby civil case without a search warrant, which Ms. Pressley seemed to suggest was a breach of the agreement.
“You divulged what was in the confidential settlement agreement to the district attorney before they made the request for the file, didn’t you?” Ms. Pressley said.
The lawsuit against Ms. Troiani and Ms. Kivitz was filed on Feb. 1, and at one point in the testimony two days later, Ms. Troiani alludes to Mr. Cosby’s “lawsuit against me.”
Judge Robreno ordered Mr. Cosby to file a redacted version of the complaint with the federal court in Philadelphia. The redacted complaint was not publicly available by late Wednesday. Ms. Pressley declined to comment further. A lawyer for Ms. Troiani and Ms. Kivitz, Jeffrey B. McCarron, declined to comment.
The suit also names as defendants Ms. Constand; her mother, Gianna; and American Media, publisher of The National Enquirer.
A lawyer for American Media said he was aware that his client had been sued but that he had not seen the lawsuit. Ms. Constand sued The National Enquirer for libel in 2006, and won a financial settlement from it. The details of its settlement appear to fall under the confidential agreement between Ms. Constand and Mr. Cosby. American Media has been fighting recently to keep those details protected after lawyers for seven other women in Massachusetts who are suing Mr. Cosby for defamation sought to obtain Ms. Troiani’s case files.
A pretrial hearing in the criminal case has been scheduled for March 8.
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