Woman accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault withdraws defamation lawsuit
Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County courthouse for pre-trial hearings in the sexual assault case against him in Norristown, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 3, 2016. (Agence France-Presse/Kena Betancur)

A woman who contends Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her in 1965 withdrew a lawsuit against the comedian on Friday, a day after a federal judge in Massachusetts had blocked an effort by the entertainer's attorneys have the suit dismissed.

Kristina Ruehli is one of more than 50 women who have accused Cosby, now 78, of sexually assaulting them, often after plying them with drugs and alcohol, in a series of attacks dating back decades. Most of these alleged cases are too old to be the subject of criminal prosecution, but Cosby now faces a series of defamation lawsuits by women who claim he smeared their names when he accused them of lying.

In a brief filing in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts, Ruehli did not say why she was withdrawing a suit filed in 2015. Her lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the Washington Post quoted Ruehli as saying that she had accomplished her goal of drawing attention to Cosby's alleged sexual assaults.

Once one of the United States' most beloved entertainers, who built a long career on family-friendly comedy, Cosby's career is in tatters following waves of allegations of sex assault, one of which is the subject of a criminal prosecution in Pennsylvania.

Cosby has steadfastly denied wrongdoing and his attorneys in a statement on Friday described Ruehli's move to dismiss her own lawsuit as an affirmation of their client's innocence.

"This is now the second of these defamation cases that has been dismissed, either by a court or by a party," they said in an e-mailed statement.

A federal judge in Pennsylvania in January dismissed a similar defamation suit against Cosby, saying the plaintiff had not established adequate cause for a defamation claim.

"We hope and expect that there will be more and we look forward to fighting any that are not dismissed before a jury of our peers," Cosby's attorneys said. "For those in the media who accepted every allegation raised without question or evaluation, they need to answer the well-known question with respect to Mr. Cosby, 'Which office do I go to get my reputation back?'"

Another defamation lawsuit in federal court in Massachusetts, where Cosby and his wife and business manager Camille Cosby reside, is proceeding. That case involves seven women who have accused Cosby of sex assault.

The entertainer is due back in a Pennsylvania courtroom next month in connection with the one criminal sex assault case he faces.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Tom Brown)