Lawyers for Bill Cosby ask U.S. judge to dismiss defamation lawsuit

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(Reuters) - Attorneys for Bill Cosby asked a federal court judge on Friday to dismiss a defamation suit filed against the comedian in Massachusetts by three women who said he called them liars when they accused him of sexual assault.

About three dozen women have accused Cosby, 77, of sexual misconduct in incidents dating back to the 1960s. The comedian has denied all the claims, most of which have seen the statute of limitations run out.

The three women who sued Cosby in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts, took a new legal tack, contending that he defamed them when they made public allegations of sexual assault.

"This is not an action for sexual assault," Cosby's attorneys wrote in a motion asking that the suit be dismissed. "This lawsuit is, rather, a misuse of the law of defamation to attempt an end run around the relevant status of limitations for the alleged assaults."

List of Cosby accusers:

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List of Accusers Against Bill Cosby
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Lawyers for Bill Cosby ask U.S. judge to dismiss defamation lawsuit

Linda Ridgeway Whitedeer

Date of alleged assault: Early 1970's
Date of accusation: August 12, 2015

(Photo by MARK RALSTON via AFP/Getty Images)

Former actress Eden Tirl

Date of alleged assault: Early 1970's
Date of accusation: August 12, 2015

(Photo by MARK RALSTON via AFP/Getty Images)

Colleen Hughes

Date of alleged assault: Early 1970's
Date of accusation: August 12, 2015

(Photo by MARK RALSTON via AFP/Getty Images)

Lise-Lotte Lublin

Date of alleged assault: 1989
Date of accusation: February 12, 2015 

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Linda Brown

Date of alleged assault: 1969
Date of accusation: February 12, 2015 i. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Katherine McKee

Date of alleged incident: 1970s
Date of accusation: Dec. 22, 2014

(NY Daily News)

"Lisa"

Date of alleged incident: 1988
Date of accusation: Dec. 19, 2014

(Dr.Phil)

Beverly Johnson

Date of alleged incident: mid-’80s
Date of accusation: Dec. 11, 2014

(Getty)

Jewel Allison

Date of Alleged Assault – late 1980s
Date of Accusation – Nov. 24, 2014

(Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Linda Joy Traitz

Date of Alleged Assault – 1970s
Date of Accusation – Nov. 22, 2014

(Facebook)

Angela Leslie

Date of Alleged Assault – 1992
Date of Accusation– Nov. 21, 2014

(Facebook)

Victoria Valentino

Date of Alleged Assault – 1970
Date of Accusation – Nov. 21, 2014

(Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Louisa Moritz

Date of Alleged Assault – 1971
Date of Accusation – Nov. 20, 2014

(Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Michelle Hurd

Date of Alleged Assault – mid 1990s
Date of Accusation – Nov. 20, 2014

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Barbara Bowman

Date of Alleged Assault – 1986
Date of Accusation – Nov. 13, 2014

(Getty)

Marcella Tate

Date of Alleged Assault – 1975
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Joan Tarshis

Date of Alleged Assault – 1969
Date of Accusation – 2014

(Matt Moyer For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Margie Shapiro 

Date of Alleged Assault – Early 1970's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Lynn Neal

Date of Alleged Assault – 1980's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Sammie Mays

Date of Alleged Assault – Mid 1980's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Linda Kirkpatrick

Date of Alleged Assault – 1981
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Janice Baker Kinney

Date of Alleged Assault – 1982
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Kacey

Date of Alleged Assault – Early 1990's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Autumn Burns

Date of Alleged Assault – 1970
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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