Bill Cosby is threatening a $250 million lawsuit against the oft-targeted tab after it reported that an actress from his CBS series accused him of sexual abuse.
The comedian and pudding-pop pusher is now demanding a retraction and apology from the Enquirer, saying its story included "false, vicious and defamatory statements and accusations" about him.
The tabloid reported this week that 20-year-old Lachele Covington, who has a recurring role as a waitress on Cosby, told New York City police that Cosby fondled her breast and exposed himself to her in January. A complaint filed February 1 with police was referred to the district attorney's office, but no charges were filed, the paper said.
But Cosby's camp is rebuffing the dirty-old-man accusations. "The story is not true," Cos spokesman David Brokaw says. "Nothing happened. The authorities never contacted Mr. Cosby, and the first he learned of it was from the National Enquirer."
Although the Manhattan D.A.'s office does not comment on complaints unless there's an arrest, the Enquirer says it's standing by the story. Publisher David Pecker released a statement saying the report was fair and included Cosby's denial, and that the paper may countersue if Cosby decides to take them to court.
"The Enquirer has an absolute right to report on this controversy and will not be intimidated by Mr. Cosby's threat," the statement reads. "Should Mr. Cosby bring a lawsuit, the Enquirer will seek appropriate sanctions against him."
The Enquirer has a spotty history with TV's favorite dad, whose show is now back on CBS on Fridays. In 1998, the tabloid played a role in the murder case of Cosby's son, Ennis, when the $100,000 reward it offered led to an arrest and conviction in the shooting death of the 27-year-old. Cosby initially demanded the reward be pulled and slammed the paper for exploiting his son's murder. He also called for the retraction of another Enquirer story that claimed he had hired a gunman to track down his son's killer.
Cosby's potential lawsuit could make Celine Dion's recent $20 million complaint against the Enquirer look like chump change. The Canadian songstress filed suit February 28, claiming the tab ran a false story saying her motherly aspirations came true, and she was pregnant with twins from her husband's frozen sperm. The Enquirer is defending that story too, saying it came from credible sources and was published in good faith.
The tab's faith, and fate, is now in the hands of some overworked lawyers.