Cosby to Constand: Give me back my money

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The 2006 agreement Andrea Constand and Bill 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.

Bill Cosby wants Andrea Constand to give back the money he paid her in a confidential settlement a decade ago, saying she violated that agreement by helping Montgomery County authorities build a sexual-assault case against him last year.

The request came as part of a breach-of-contract lawsuit the entertainer filed under seal in federal court in Philadelphia this month. By order of a judge, a version of the complaint became public this week.

The lawsuit seeks full repayment plus interest on "the substantial financial benefit" Constand received as part of the 2006 settlement. The specifics of that agreement have never been publicly disclosed, and the complaint doesn't reveal them. Apparent references in it to settlement terms are redacted.

The suit, filed the day before a pivotal Feb. 2 hearing in Cosby's criminal case, opens yet another front in the 78-year-old comedian's aggressive legal response to assertions by dozens of women nationwide that he sexually assaulted them over decades. Cosby has filed defamation lawsuits against accusers in Pittsburgh, Massachusetts, and California.

His lawyers allege that Constand, as a Canadian citizen who now lives in Toronto, had no obligation to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors as they reopened their investigation last summer into her claims that he drugged and assaulted her in his Cheltenham home a dozen years ago.

In fact, they say, Constand's settlement barred her from discussing details of her allegations with anyone.

"Despite being expressly prohibited from disclosing such information to anyone, Andrea Constand volunteered to participate and disclosed such information to the district attorney and others," their filing states.

That cooperation led to Cosby's arrest in December on charges of indecent assault.

Constand's lawyer, Dolores Troiani, declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday.

She has maintained that the settlement agreement only barred Constand from initiating criminal proceedings against Cosby and not from cooperating if authorities came to her first.

Prosecutors introduced a copy of the agreement, redacted to hide all but a single sentence, at Cosby's pretrial hearing this month. That line read: "Constand agrees that she will not initiate any criminal complaint against Cosby arising from the underlying facts of this case."

Troiani, her former law partner Bebe Kivitz, and Constand's mother, Gianna, are also named as defendants in the breach-of-contract complaint. Cosby accuses all three of inviting coverage of the case and cooperating with investigators even though they, too, had signed confidentiality clauses as part of Constand's civil settlement.

The suit also names the publisher of the National Enquirer, which was party to the 2006 agreement because of a separate defamation suit Constand had filed at the time against the paper.

Cosby alleges the tabloid violated the settlement terms with recent coverage of the case and its participants. A Jan. 6 story, for instance, was headlined "World Exclusive: Bill Cosby Will Die in Jail."

Many of the claims in Cosby's lawsuit are ones the entertainer has raised in other legal proceedings, including an allegation that Troiani and Kivitz were responsible for the public release last summer of a transcript of a Cosby deposition from the 2006 case.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele has credited that transcript with inspiring him to reopen the Constand investigation.

Troiani and Kivitz have repeatedly denied any role in its release, blaming a court reporter for selling copies to news outlets before realizing it was supposed to remain under seal.

In a response filed Wednesday to Cosby's latest lawsuit, the women said Cosby and his legal team have been just as loose-lipped in their discussions of the 2006 settlement.

"Cosby has publicly discussed the allegations against him, commented on the settlement in an attempt to sway public opinion, [and] publicly questioned Troiani regarding settlement terms," wrote Jeffrey B. McCarron, a lawyer representing Troiani and Kivitz. "The circumstances have changed since the execution of the settlement agreement."

jroebuck@phillynews.com

215-854-2608 @jeremyrroebuck