Sacha Baron Cohen Wins Defamation Appeal Brought by Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

Sacha Baron Cohen Wins Defamation Appeal Brought by Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

Sacha Baron Cohen, known for his portrayal of the fictional character Borat, defeated an appeal brought by Roy Moore after the politician claimed the actor defamed him during an appearance on his political satire Showtime series, Who Is America?, in 2018. 

Showtime and CBS, also sued by Moore, shared in the appellate victory.

Attorneys for Moore said Cohen, 50, tricked him into appearing on the show and falsely portrayed him as a pedophile, according to The Wall Street Journal

A three-judge panel in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan unanimously ruled to throw out the $95 million lawsuit on Thursday, per CNN

The court said Moore, 75, signed a disclosure agreement that prohibited him from making future claims of defamation, according to PBS

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Additionally, the 2nd Circuit agreed with a lower court’s previous ruling, which found “that the segment at issue was clearly comedy and that no reasonable viewer would conclude otherwise,” per CNN.

“The Second Circuit, in affirming the dismissal of the district court judge, effectively held that all comedy is immune from suit under our defamation laws. This finding, coming from two leftist Obama and one Clinton appointed judges, is absurd, biased and legally wrong and will be appealed to the full panel of judges on the appellate court,” Moore’s attorney, Larry Klayman, tells PEOPLE in a statement. 

Adds Klayman: “One can only conclude that if these Obama and Clinton judges had been branded a pedophile by Sacha Baron Cohen, they would had found differently. Prior to Cohen’s alleged defamation, no one had ever accused Judge Moore of being a pedophile, which is defined as a person who is sexually attracted to children under the age of 13!” 

PEOPLE has reached out to Cohen’s rep and reps for Showtime and CBS for comment. 

Last July, a federal judge dismissed a $95 million lawsuit brought against Cohen by Moore, writing in part, “Given the satirical nature of that segment and the context in which it was presented, no reasonable viewer would have interpreted Cohen’s conduct during the interview as asserting factual statements concerning Judge Moore.”

After the suit was dismissed, Klayman vowed to appeal.

For Cohen’s 2018 show, Moore had agreed — unwittingly — to an interview with Cohen’s Israeli colonel character Erran Morad after learning he would be receiving a supposed award for his support of Israel.

Klayman previously said that Moore was “very proud” when he called to share news of the honor and traveled to Washington, D.C., with his wife to receive it — but was “very hurt” when he discovered it was a stunt.

Additionally, when Moore and Cohen first met, Klayman said Moore was handed a consent agreement for Yerushalayim TV in which he agreed to waive any legal claims — though Klayman insisted that Moore crossed out anything regarding sexual content.

In the Who Is America? interview, Cohen’s character said that Israel had created a new piece of technology that could identify sex offenders and pedophiles. When Cohen waved the wand over Moore’s body, the machine emitted a loud beeping sound. 

Cohen’s character told Moore, “It’s malfunctioning,” but the machine did not make noise when the actor used the device on himself.

“I have been married 33 years. I have never had an accusation of such things,” Moore told Cohen.

“Certainly I’m not a pedophile, okay?” he added before abruptly ending the interview.

The “pedophile” joke came at the height of Moore’s national profile — and controversy.

During his 2017 bid for an Alabama Senate seat, several women came forward and accused Moore of sexually assaulting them while they were underage and when he was a district attorney in his 30s. 

One woman said she was 16 when Moore allegedly “began squeezing my neck and attempting to force my head into his crotch.”

Moore has adamantly denied those accounts.

Klayman previously told PEOPLE that Cohen’s stunt had a significant impact on Moore’s mental health: “It really cuts deep because it’s not true.”