McKee’s sexual assault allegation first appeared in a New York Daily News article in 2014. After the article was published, Cosby wrote a letter to the paper denying the claim. His lawyer asked the paper to retract the article, according to Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt.
U.S. District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni ruled that McKee had not proven that Cosby had defamed her simply by denying her claims.
“An accused person cannot be foreclosed, during their responsive navigation, from considering the issuance of a simple and unequivocal denial — free from overall defamatory triggers or contextual themes,” he wrote in the decision. “Such a situation would be inconsistent with basic First Amendment principles.”
Cosby’s team agreed with the court’s ruling.
“This is another in a line of recent developments vindicating Mr. Cosby’s right to defend himself in the face of an onslaught of unverified accusations,” Wyatt told CNN in a statement.
McKee told CNN on Thursday she is “very disgusted” with the court’s ruling. She had no further comment.
In her lawsuit, McKee claimed that Cosby raped her when they met at his hotel room in Detroit, according to court documents. McKee appeared on “The Bill Cosby Show” in 1971 and believed she was friends with Cosby, the court documents state.
When they met at the hotel, McKee says that she “was immediately set upon and physically attacked by Cosby,” according to court documents.
McKee told a New York Daily News reporter about the alleged incident in 2014, almost 40 years after it occurred.
After the article was published, Cosby wrote a letter to the Daily News stating that McKee’s accusations were false. The lawsuit claimed that this letter was intended to defame McKee to both readers of the Daily News and in the world at large, according to court documents.
“This is the correct outcome,” Angela C. Agrusa, Cosby’s lead civil attorney, told CNN in a statement. “It is paramount in a free society to be able to insist on one’s innocence in the face of serious public accusations, and today’s ruling reinforces that fundamental right.”
CNN’s Sonia Moghe and Chris Boyette contributed to this report.