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Crime

The Surprising Reason a Bill Cosby Accuser Withdrew Her Defamation Lawsuit Against Him – One Day After a Legal Victory

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For Kristina Ruehli suing entertainer Bill Cosby for defamation was never about the money.

It was about clearing her name.

Last Friday, a day after a federal judge denied Cosby’s motion to dismiss her case – a huge victory for her – she withdrew her lawsuit.

“I put my money where my mouth was – I spent nearly $100,000 on lawyers – to prove that I was telling the truth … about this monster,” Ruehli, 73, tells PEOPLE. “I have stood up for myself. Now it’s time to go back to my happy life, lose some weight and weed my garden.”

Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesman, quickly released a statement declaring the withdrawal a victory.

“This is now the second of these defamation cases that has been dismissed, either by a Court or by a party,” the statement said. “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.

The statement continued: “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?'”

In response to Wyatt’s statement, Ruehli said with a laugh, “How else are you going to spin it? They were completely taken by surprise.”

Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse after a preliminary hearing
Matt Rourke/AP

Ruehli Allegedly Passed Out After Two Drinks: Lawsuit

Ruehli, of Windham, New Hampshire, says Cosby drugged and tried to sexually assault her in 1965 when she was a secretary for his talent agency in Los Angeles.

Cosby allegedly came into the agency’s offices in December 1965, said he was going to be on a television variety show and invited Ruehli and others to a party at his home afterward, according to her lawsuit.

She arrived at about 10 p.m., “expecting others would have already arrived,” but allegedly “the house was nearly empty,” the lawsuit says.

“Mr. Cosby invited Ms. Ruehli in and told her that his wife was out of town,” the suit alleges. “He brought her to a bedroom where an infant was asleep and showed her the infant.”

She accepted two drinks from him and “passed out” after the second one, the suit alleges.

“After an unknown period of time, Ms. Ruehli regained consciousness and found herself on a bed with Mr. Cosby,” the suit alleges. “She was naked. Mr. Cosby had his penis in her face and his hand on the back of her head … attempting to … force her to give him oral sex.”

Instead she allegedly ran to the bathroom and threw up several times. When she returned from the bathroom he was gone, she alleges. She dressed, found her way out of his home and left.

She told her boyfriend at the time what allegedly happened.

“Our personal reaction, aside from being stunned, was ‘Ew. What a creep!’ ” she says. “It was not like I was traumatized.”

She never even thought about going to the police about it, she says.

“It was 1965,” she says. “There were no rape kits. He had not violated or penetrated me. No one would have believed me.”

Kristina at her wedding to Peter Putnam
Courtesy Kristina Reuhli
Cosby, 78, has denied Ruehli s allegations as well as similar ones from more than 50 women.

Ruehli, meanwhile, says she quit the talent agency shortly afterward and never saw Cosby again.

“I went on with my life,” she says. “I went back to UCLA, got a law degree and ended up going into corporate finance.”

Jane Doe #12

She didn’t think about what happened again until early 2005, when she heard Andrea Constand, then 32, had accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion in January 2004.

She reached out to Constand’s attorneys and later became Jane Doe #12 in Constand’s 2005 lawsuit against Cosby

“I thought it was the right thing to do,” she says.

Constand settled her lawsuit against Cosby in late 2006.

After the allegations began piling up in late 2014, Ruehli once again came forward, this time allowing her name and photograph to be used.

“I thought, ‘I guess I’m going to have to do this again,’ ” she says. “I didn’t expect it would become the spectacle it did.”

She filed a defamation lawsuit against Cosby in November 2015 after one of his representatives issued a statement casting doubt on her claims and others.

Since then she has kept quiet, letting the legal system run its course.

‘I’m Satisfied I’ve Cleared My Name’

In April, her attorneys took a deposition from the ex-boyfriend she’d told about Cosby allegedly drugging and trying to sexually assault her shortly after it happened. He corroborated her contention she had told him, according to a copy of the deposition obtained by PEOPLE.

Then she set her plan to end the lawsuit on her own terms in motion, she says.

“We decided we’d play it this way: Let’s get the denial of his motion then immediately release the transcript and withdraw the case.

“I’m satisfied that with the deposition transcript I’ve cleared my name,” she says. “I had been called a liar. I had a great big red ‘L’ painted on me.”

She also wanted to spare her ex-boyfriend and other aging witnesses “the trauma of coming out of their own private world and dragging them into court,” she says.

“At some point there’s a sense of decency you have to have,” she says.

Plus, she says, she doesn’t want to spend her twilight years immersed in a high-profile court battle.

“I have a very happy life,” she says. “I have spent all the money on this that I want to spend. This could go on for years. I could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on this. Why bother? I have vindicated myself.”

However, she says she would help any other Cosby accusers with their lawsuits if asked and would help in the Constand s criminal case against Cosby if need be.

“I would speak up for any of them because that’s what I was doing in the first place by coming forward – adding my voice to theirs.”