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As Bill Cosby countersues, BU says it will rescind honor

Bill Cosby received an honorary degree during Boston University's 141st commencement ceremony in 2014.Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/File/Globe Staff

Embattled comedian Bill Cosby went on the attack Monday against the growing number of women who are accusing him of past sexual assaults, filing a counterclaim in Springfield against seven alleged victims who are suing him there.

In a strongly worded court filing in federal court alleging defamation, Cosby’s lawyers wrote that the seven accusers have “engaged in a campaign to assassinate Mr. Cosby’s reputation and character by willfully, maliciously, and falsely accusing Mr. Cosby of multi-decade-old purported sexual misconduct. [Their] campaign is nothing more than an opportunistic attempt to extract financial gain from him.”

Among the accusers suing Cosby in Springfield is Louisa Moritz, who says that the entertainer forced her to engage in a sexual act in April of 1969 while she was waiting backstage on the set of “The Tonight Show” in New York.

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She said Cosby told her during the alleged assault, “I am going to make you something incredible,” according to court papers.

After the encounter, Cosby allegedly said to Moritz, who was then a young actress, “Now you don’t want to upset me and the plans for your future, do you?”

In court papers, Cosby denied committing the assault or making the statements.

A trial date for the Springfield lawsuit, which was filed there in part because Cosby owns a home in Shelburne Falls, about 45 miles away, has not been set.

Separately on Monday, Boston University said it has revoked the honorary degree it awarded to Cosby in May 2014.

The university said in a statement that its Board of Trustees voted for revocation on Thursday “based on a determination, supported by Mr. Cosby’s sworn deposition testimony, that his treatment of women has brought significant and lasting discredit upon himself and is inconsistent with the University’s mission and values.”

The university gave Cosby, now 78, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the 2014 commencement ceremony.

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Since then, allegations have surfaced that Cosby sexually assaulted dozens of women over the past several decades. Many of them also reported that they were drugged before Cosby subjected them to unwanted sexual contact.

Through representatives, Cosby has repeatedly denied the accusations and has not been charged with a crime.

But on Monday BU in its statement said that Cosby’s “character fails to reflect the integrity and virtues that the University values.”

Boston University joins a list of universities that have rescinded honorary degrees for Cosby, including Fordham, Marquette, Drexel, Lehigh, and Bryant.


Globe correspondent Sarah Roberts contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Martin Finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.