One-time Senate candidate says he was falsely portrayed as a paedophile in lawsuit against CBS and Showtime
The failed US Senate candidate Roy Moore has sued the comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for defamation and emotional distress after being pranked on the actors television show.
The lawsuit asks for $95m in punitive and compensatory damages and appears to be the first filed by one of the string of politicians who were duped and humiliated by Baron Cohen on the show Who is America.
The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in federal court in Washington DC, accuses Baron Cohen of defaming Moore and says Moore “suffered extreme emotional distress” as a result of “being falsely portrayed as a sex offender and paedophile” on the show. Moore was duped into appearing on a segment where Baron Cohen demonstrated a supposed paedophile detecting device that beeped when it came near Moore.
During last years Senate race Moore faced accusations he pursued romantic and sexual relationships with children as young as 14 when he was a prosecutor in his 30s. He has denied the misconduct allegations.
Larry Klayman, founder of the conservative group Freedom Watch, is representing Moore and his wife Kayla in the lawsuit. The complaint also names CBS and Showtime as defendants in the case.
Klayman said in a statement: Sasha 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.
Representatives of Baron Cohen did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the lawsuit.
A Showtime representative wrote in an email that the company did not comment on pending litigation, and to their knowledge it had not been served with the complaint.
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-eyebrowed faux counter-terrorism instructor Colonel Erran Morad discussing bogus military technology, including a supposed paedophile detector. The device repeatedly beeped as it got near Moore, who sat stone-faced.
Baron Cohens latest show, which began airing in July, has drawn in several other political figures. In one episode the former Arizona sheriff and Senate candidate Joe Arpaio argued the benefits of gun ownership to a tiny toy doughnut.
Another episode led a Georgia state representative to resign after he shouted racial slurs and exposed his rear end in a supposed anti-terrorism self-defence drill.