William Morris Endeavor wants nothing to do with Billy Cosby or the sexual assault case against the widely accused comedian.
In papers filed yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court, WME said they should not be co-defendants in Linda Ridgway-Whitedeer’s claims that the man once known as “America’s Dad” forced her to perform oral sex in 1971.
After the alleged assault first became public in 2015, when dozens of women came forward against Cosby, the plaintiffs’ September civil lawsuit alleges that “at the time of the sexual assault, the William Morris Agency knew or should have known of the repeated acts of sexual assault by the accused.”
Now the agency, which Ari Emanual and Patrick Whitesell created in 2009 through the merger of William Morris and Endeavor, claims it had “no control” over what did or did not happen 52 years ago.
“Pursuant to the California Code of Civil Procedure… WME denies, both generally and specifically, each and every allegation contained in plaintiff’s complaint and as a whole, and each and every allegation contained therein,” a four-page response to the complaint filed on Nov. 15, which can be read here states: “WME further denies that Plaintiff has suffered any damages in any amount or is entitled to any relief against WME in this action or otherwise.”
In her initial complaint on September 12, Ridgway-Whitedeer details how, in 1971, another William Morris client, Cosby, specifically asked her to audition in person with him for a role in his film, in which he starred opposite Robert Culp Hickey and Boggs movie. The alleged attack took place, apparently quickly and mercilessly, in an “empty director’s office” in a Los Angeles studio, behind a “closed door.”
“Plaintiff, unable to breathe and in shock from what had just occurred, was unable to react,” reads the four-claim complaint. “Defendant Cosby attempted to wipe his semen from plaintiff’s face with a handkerchief. Still in shock, plaintiff was walked to her car by defendant Cosby. As she clutched the steering wheel, her cheeks wet with tears, defendant Cosby, still next to the car, quickly backed away, passing in front of plaintiff’s car.
With the help of attorneys at Jeff Anderson & Associates, Ridgway-Whitedeer was able to file a lawsuit under a California law that went into effect earlier this year that allows victims of sexual assault until the end of 2026 to pursue civil claims regardless of how long ago the alleged crime occurred.
However, WME argues that the statute of limitations should apply and that Ridgway-Whitedeer “unreasonably delayed bringing this action against WME and thereby violated WME’s rights.” The agency further states that “Plaintiff’s claims against WME are barred, in whole or in part, because plaintiff’s alleged injuries and damages, if any, were caused by the independent acts, omissions, errors, omissions and/or other conduct of others. that WME had no control over.”
Cosby worked at the William Morris Agency and its successor WME from 1964 to 2012. He then moved to CAA, but was quietly fired by them in early 2015 as more and more claims against him came to light.
The agency wants the negligence claim and other claims dismissed with prejudice. As the parent company prepares for a possible transition to a private company, WME Greenberg Traurig lawyers (including Britany Spears lawyer Matthew Rosengart) also want Ridgway-Whitedeer to cover the costs of the lawsuit.
Just like his team in every accusation The Cosby show Cosby’s spokesman said in September that the comedian “strongly denies the allegations against him and maintains his innocence, and vows to vigorously fight these alleged allegations in the court of public opinion and in the courtroom.”
A hearing date regarding the dismissal of WME’s motion from the case has not yet been set.
More than 60 women have alleged over the years that Cosby drugged and assaulted them, often with a combination of pills and alcohol. Kicking off years of legal battles, former supermodel Janice Dickinson formally took the case to court in May 2015, in the first of several lawsuits. Since then, dozens have followed suit, literally and figuratively. Over the past few years, New York law, similar to those in California and Nevada, has eliminated statute of limitations requirements and allowed two people tor Cosby’s show actresses and three other women sued Cosby and NBCUniversal last December over sexual assault and battery claims.
Cosby was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison in 2018 by a Pennsylvania judge after his second trial for raping Andrea Constand. His sentence didn’t last long, and Cosby, now 86, was vacated in June 2021.
However, this is not the end of the claims against him. In September 2022, Cosby lost a retrial attempt over Judy Huth’s accusation of sexual assault at the Playboy Mansion in the 1970s when the plaintiff was a minor. On June 21, 2022, a Santa Monica jury reinstated Huth’s sentence in this civil case. The 12-member panel awarded Huth $500,000 in damages. As a result of the claims, more lawsuits have emerged over the decades, such as the Ridgway-Whitedeer case.