Sacha Baron Cohen has beaten former Senate candidate Roy Moore’s $95 million defamation lawsuit against him.
The Alabama politician sued Cohen after his 2018 “Who Is America?” sketch aired on Showtime. The satirical series included Cohen joking about Moore’s multiple sexual assault allegations from then-underage women that were uncovered during his 2017 Senate campaign to fill the seat vacated when Jeff Sessions became U.S. Attorney General. He lost to Democrat Doug Jones. No criminal charges were brought against Moore, who denied any wrongdoing, but that didn’t stop Cohen from making a crack over it.
During the “Who Is America?” segment, Cohen steps into the role of a faux Israeli anti-terrorism expert named General Erran Morad, who pulls out a metal detector that he claims can also alert to a pedophile’s presence. Despite Moore’s disclosure agreement before appearing in the series, he and wife Kayla Moore sued Cohen claiming the contract was “unenforceable because it was obtained under false pretense,” as Entertainment Weekly reported.
The show’s “fraudulent portrayal and mocking of Judge Moore as a sex offender, on national and international television, which was widely broadcast in this district on national television and worldwide, has severely harmed Judge Moore’s reputation and caused him, Mrs. Moore, and his entire family severe emotional distress, as well as caused and will cause Plaintiffs financial damage,” per Moore’s official suit filing against Showtime, CBS, and Cohen for fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and defamation. Moore had previously served as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed Moore’s lawsuit in 2021. Now, Moore’s appeal has also been denied, with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upholding the validity of the disclosure agreement. Three presiding judges also found that the “obviously farcical” pedophile detector segment was “clearly comedy” and that “no reasonable person could believe [the pedophile detector] to be an actual, functioning piece of technology.”
Moore, however, is looking to appeal for a second time.
“For far too long the American people have been subjected to the antics of Sasha [sic] Baron Cohen,” the Moores told the Associated Press. “His pusillanimous and fraudulent conduct must be stopped. We will appeal.”
Cohen has not yet issued a public statement.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard suit claiming defamation from Heard’s Washington Post op-ed in which she called herself a domestic abuse survivor, as well as Geoffrey Rush successfully proving in court that Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph defamed him by publishing an article alleging the actor acted inappropriately towards an actress.
Cohen has formerly been sued by the family of late Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans after her appearance in “Borat 2.” The lawsuit was dismissed “unconditionally” according to an Amazon Prime Video attorney in 2020.