A judge has thrown out Roy Moore’s $95million defamation lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen over claims the comedian had falsely suggested he was a sex offender.
Moore, 74, was duped into appearing on a five-minute portion of the show, which was broadcast on July 18, 2018, with Baron Cohen, 49, pretending to be an Israeli counterterrorism instructor.
But US district judge John Cronan threw out the defamation case on Tuesday, which was filed by Moore and his wife Kayla in September 2018, because Moore had signed a waiver.
A US judge has thrown out Roy Moore’s $95million defamation lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen (both pictured) over claims the comedian had falsely suggested he was a sex offender
Cronan claimed his consent agreement barred him from suing the actor, Showtime and its parent company ViacomCBS Inc over the broadcast, including for intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraud.
Moore sued the actor over his appearance on Baron Cohen’s prank show, where the former Alabama judge had expected to receive an award for supporting Israel.
Instead, Baron Cohen pretended to be an Israeli counterterrorism instructor called Erran Morad and the actor’s character demonstrated a supposed pedophile detecting device that beeped each time it came near Moore.
Moore lost his 2017 Senate race to Democrat Doug Jones after being accused of sexual misconduct toward female teenagers while in his 30s. He has denied wrongdoing.
After the show aired in July 2018, Moore and his wife sued for defamation and emotional distress after being ‘falsely portrayed as a sex offender and pedophile’ on the segment.
The Moores were believed to have warned Cohen and his production team at the time that if the ‘offensive and defamatory interview’ was aired, they would sue.
In a 26-page decision, district judge Cronan said the segment was ‘clearly a joke’, and no reasonable viewer would see it differently.
‘It is simply inconceivable that the program’s audience would have found a segment with Judge Moore activating a supposed pedophile-detecting wand to be grounded in any factual basis,’ Cronan wrote.
The failed US senate candidate (left) claimed that Baron Cohen (right) slandered him by falsely portraying him as a sex offender on a Showtime comedy prank series ‘Who Is America?’
Moore and his wife Kayla, also a plaintiff, quickly appealed.
‘Judge Cronan’s ruling makes no factual and legal sense,’ Larry Klayman, a conservative lawyer representing the Moores, said in a statement.
‘To the contrary, Judge Cronan’s dismissal is the joke, and more than a bad joke at that.’
Showtime declined to comment. Lawyers for Baron Cohen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Moore earlier sought to disqualify Cronan, an appointee of former Republican President Donald Trump, for allegedly opposing his political and religious beliefs.
In a statement in July 2018, Moore said: ‘In February 2018, I was invited to Washington D. C. to receive an award for my strong support of Israel in commemoration of her 70th anniversary as a nation.
‘Because Alabama has always been at the forefront of support of Israel and because I share a strong belief in God as the Creator and Sustainer of all life, as does Israel, I eventually accepted the invitation.
‘Expenses were paid, and I received no private remuneration for my time or participation.
‘I did not know Sacha Cohen or that a Showtime TV series was being planned to embarrass, humiliate, and mock not only Israel, but also religious conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Joe Walsh, and Dick Cheney.’
‘As for Mr. Cohen, whose art is trickery, deception, and dishonesty, Alabama does not respect cowards who exhibit such traits!’ Moore wrote.
Moore sued the actor over his appearance on Baron Cohen’s prank show, where the former Alabama judge had expected to receive an award for supporting Israel
Instead, Baron Cohen pretended to be an Israeli counterterrorism instructor Erran Morad and demonstrated a supposed pedophile detecting device that beeped when it came near Moore
During his 2017 Senate race, Moore faced accusations that he pursued romantic and sexual relationships with teens as young as 14 when he was a prosecutor in his 30s. He had always denied the misconduct allegations.
‘Sacha Baron Cohen, who is not only low class but also a fraudster, will now, along with Showtime and CBS, be held accountable for his outrageous and false, fraudulent and defamatory conduct which callously did great emotional and other damage to his great man and his wife and family,’ Klayman said in a statement.
Klayman said Moore thought he was receiving an award for supporting Israel when he agreed to appear on the show.
In the segment, Baron Cohen appeared as the bushy eye-browed faux counterterrorism instructor discussing bogus military technology, including a supposed pedophile detector.
As the device repeatedly beeped when it came near Moore, he sat stone faced and asked to end the interview early.
Baron Cohen’s show has also pranked several other political figures.
The actor has faced past lawsuits over similar pranks, but those actions faltered because the individuals had signed releases.
He won a dismissal in 2007 of a lawsuit by two former fraternity students who claimed they were duped while drunk into appearing in his film Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
And in 2008, a New York judge tossed out lawsuits brought by a driving instructor and two etiquette school teachers who said they were duped into appearing in the movie Borat, in which Baron Cohen played an awkward foreign journalist traveling the United States.
Baron Cohen also won a dismissal in 2007 of a lawsuit by two former students who claimed they were duped while drunk into appearing in his film Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
The judge said they accepted money and signed agreements releasing the filmmakers from liability.
Moore’s lawsuit suggests that he too signed a release, but contends it was fraudulently obtained.
Moore’s lawyer wrote that when they tried to stop the segment from airing, ‘defendants CBS, Showtime and thus Baron Cohen were informed that the release that Judge Moore had signed was obtained through fraud, and was therefore void and inoperative.’
‘Had Judge Moore and Mrs. Moore known that ‘Erran Morad’ was Defendant Cohen, Judge Moore would have never agreed to be interviewed,’ Moore’s lawyer wrote in the lawsuit.
In 2017, Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme court, was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.
The Washington Post released an investigation that alleged Moore sexually abused young women in the 1970s. Moore has denied the accusations.