- Seven women suing Bill Cosby reached a settlement in their defamation case against him.
- The details have not been disclosed, but Cosby and his team say the settlement was made by his insurance company, without his knowledge or consent.
- He still maintains his innocence and plans to pursue his countersuit against the women.
A settlement has been reached in a defamation case against Bill Cosby, but Cosby and his team say the agreement was made without his knowledge.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2014, by seven women who said they were defamed by Cosby when he publically denied their allegations of sexual misconduct. The women are Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, Linda Traitz, Louisa Moritz, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis, and Angela Leslie.
Court documents filed on Friday in the western division of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts showed that the lawsuit had been settled. Joseph Cammarata, who represents the seven women, did not release details about the agreement, but he did tell the Associated Press that each of his clients “is satisfied with the settlement.”
The deal still awaits a judge’s approval.
Cosby’s Team Responds
Cosby’s spokesperson Andrew Wyatt confirmed that a settlement was reached, but says that the insurance company, AIG, reached the settlement without Cosby’s knowledge or consent.
“Mr. Cosby did not settle any cases with anyone,” Wyatt said in a statement. “He is not paying anything to anyone…Mr. Cosby vehemently denies the allegations brought against him in these defamation suits and he maintains his innocence.”
Cosby also released a statement saying, “AIG showed that they’re a part of the corruption against me, by paying off these distractors, without my knowledge, without my permission and without my consent.”
“AIG’s egregious behavior will be frowned upon by their many customers,” he continued. “They have proven that they do not have the best interest of their clients in mind, which will cause them to lose an overwhelming amount of business.”
The comedian responded to the seven women with a countersuit in 2015, claiming defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and loss of business. In his recent statement, he said he would continue to pursue that claim.
“I, [Bill Cosby], will never settle any defamation claim, I will continue to pursue my counterclaims, and I will not relinquish AIG from its responsibility in defending my defamation claims. That’s why I paid my premiums on time and I never let my policy lapse. AIG’s settlement of these claims in Massachusetts makes them look corrupt and it exposes my innocence.”
The insurance company is involved in this case because it was obligated to pay for legal services in defamation cases for Cosby under the provisions of his homeowner’s policy.
A.I.G. tried to deny him coverage, arguing in court that it was not compelled to cover claims relating to sexual misconduct. However, judges in Massachusetts and California ultimately sided with Cosby.
An AIG spokesperson said the company could not comment on a specific case but said that they do not necessarily need a client’s permission to settle a case. “Certain insurance policies provide insurers with the authority to resolve claims when the insured has been informed.”
More Legal Battles
The settlement ends one of many legal battles involving Cosby. The comedian, who is now 81-years old, has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 60 women over the span of decades.
In September 2018, Cosby was found guilty of thee counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004.
He is currently serving a three to 10-year prison sentence and will also be required to register as a sexual predator for the rest of his life. However, he is appealing his conviction and maintains his innocence in all allegations of sexual assault.
His legal battles won’t end here. Chloe Goins, a model who says Cosby drugged and assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008, has filed a sexual battery complaint against him. Cosby also faces a possible trial related to assault claims made by a woman named Judy Huth, who says he sexually assaulted her when he was a minor.
On top of that, he faces another defamation lawsuit filed by former model Janice Dickinson. Dickinson appeared at Cosby’s trial last April, where she claimed that he drugged and sexually assaulted her at a Nevada hotel in 1982.
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (The Wrap) (The Washington Post)
SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section
- The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June.
- The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
- Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary.
- It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.
College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay
College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.
Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”
The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary.
While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S.
Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.
With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.
The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test
In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.
In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.
According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.
For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)
Biden To Block Trump’s Order Lifting COVID-19 Travel Ban
- President Trump issued an executive order Monday lifting a ban on travelers from the Schengen area of Europe, the U.K., Ireland, and Brazil.
- Trump said the policy will no longer be needed starting Jan. 26, when the CDC will start requiring all passengers from abroad to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight.
- The move was cheered by the travel industry; however, incoming White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki warned that Biden’s administration does not intend to lift the travel restrictions.
Trump Order End To COVID-19 Travel Ban
President Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday ending his administration’s ban on travelers from the Schengen area of Europe, the U.K., Ireland, and Brazil.
That ban was put in place last spring in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. In his announcement, however, Trump said the policy will no longer be needed starting Jan. 26, when new rules from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention go into effect.
Starting that day, the CDC will require all passengers from abroad to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight.
The recommendation to lift the ban reportedly came from Alex Azar, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. According to Trump’s proclamation, “the Secretary reports high confidence that these jurisdictions will cooperate with the United States in the implementation of CDC’s January 12, 2021, order and that tests administered there will yield accurate results.”
It’s worth noting that the ban will stay in place for travelers from Iran and China. Still, Trump’s announcement was generally cheered by members of the travel industry who have been pushing to lift the ban and require preflight testing instead.
Biden To Block Trump’s Order
Soon after the news broke, the incoming White House press secretary for President-elect Joe Biden, Jennifer Psaki, warned that Biden would block Trump’s order.
“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she wrote on Twitter.
“On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” she added.
With that, it seems unlikely that Trump’s order will actually take effect.
It’s also worth noting that this is one of many executive orders Trump has issued just before inauguration day.
Some of these orders could soon be overturned once Biden takes office Wednesday. Biden is also expected to roll out his own wave of executive orders in his first 10 days as president.
See what others are saying: (The Wall Street Journal) (The New York Times) (CNN)
New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns
- The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
- The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
- The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.
CDC Issues Warning
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus.
The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.
Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.
Mitigating Spread of Variant
“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”
The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.
“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.
“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”