Why did Roy Moore sue Sacha Baron Cohen? SHOCKING reason behind $95M lawsuit that actor tried to get dismissed
A 3-year-old defamation case is linked to Cohen's controversial 'Who is America' show, where the comedian mocked pedophilia allegations against Moore
Actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is no stranger to controversies, but one of his antics might have just gone too far. Back in 2018, he hosted the show 'Who is America' and called former Senate candidate Roy Moore. Things didn't turn out so well for Moore, as he lost the race after being embroiled in a pedophile scandal.
Moore then decided to hit back at the comedian, slapping him with a massive $95M lawsuit, that is currently being heard in court. As if the suit wasn't enough, Cohen also found himself in another controversy during the hearing, for apparently looking down at his phone during the trial. There's plenty going on here, so let's break it down. First, we look at why Cohen is being sued, and then what the latest controversy is. At the heart of the matter is the question — just how far should comedy be allowed to go?
Why is Cohen being sued?
In February 2018, Moore was invited to an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington DC to receive an award for supporting Israel. As part of that trip, he also sat down for an interview with an Israeli "anti-terrorism expert", whom Cohen was disguised as. Initially, the two talked about technological advancements to thwart terrorism, but as with all things Cohen, things soon got odd.
Cohen claimed Israelis had adapted technology to identify perpetrators of sexual misconduct. He claimed that they had created a 'magic wand', that could detect a "special enzyme" secreted by sexual predators, and pedophiles in particular. Displaying the wand, Cohen said it will make no noise "because neither of us are sex offenders". He then moved it over himself, to prove that it works. When he waved the wand over Moore though, it made a noise.
"It must be faulty. It’s malfunctioning," the comedian said and tried it several more times on himself. He then asked Moore, "Is this your jacket? Did you lend the jacket to somebody else?" Clearly offended, Moore replied, "I’ve been married for 33 years, I’ve never had an accusation of such things. If this is an instrument, then certainly I’m not a pedophile." "I am simply cutting this conversation right now," Moore added and walked off.
You can see the clip for yourself, it's still up on YouTube after being uploaded by Showtime in 2018.
Moore alleges 'intentional infliction of emotional distress'
Prior to the taping, Moore had to sign a release, which he reportedly did. However, in the lawsuit, he claims that his signature was "obtained through fraud". The suit, filed by Moore and his wife, also alleges defamation and "intentional infliction of emotional distress". According to the filing, Cohen "falsely and fraudulently induces unsuspecting victims to be interviewed under dishonest, unethical, illegal and false pretenses, for his works". "Defendant Cohen and his agents then set these unsuspecting victims up for ridicule and to severely humiliate them on film".
It also added, "Had Judge Moore and Mrs Moore known that Defendant Cohen had fraudulently induced Judge Moore into this interview, Judge Moore would not have agreed to appear." Funnily enough, Cohen sent the invite to Moore from 'Yerushalayim TV', a channel that doesn't exist. Cohen also called himself 'Erran Morad', a former Mossad agent and 'Israeli anti-terrorism expert'. Moore has acknowledged these facts, indicating that he didn't do his research before agreeing to the show.
The suit was filed in September 2018 and was allowed to proceed in July 2020 after a judge denied Cohen's motion to dismiss. It was also transferred to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York from a Federal Court in Washington DC. In early April this year, Cohen was being deposed when the latest controversy occurred. While the deposition was taking place over Zoom, Moore's lawyer claimed, "the video does clearly show (sic) Cohen looking downward – most likely at his phone or tablet — with virtually every question that I posed, and it is thus obvious that he was being fed answers by someone".
In his letter to Judge Cronan, the lawyer, Larry Klayman, added, "The ramifications of this obvious conduct are criminal in nature." Cohen's personal attorney, Russell Smith, hit back at the accusation. He told Deadline, "Sacha Baron Cohen is 6’3. He had to look down at his laptop to see the lawyer asking him questions. He never looked down at text messages from counsel during the deposition, because there were no such messages."
The controversy stems from the fact that depositions from celebrities are usually confidential, and their contents restricted to public access. Not only has Klayman revealed the details, but he is also seeking that the video of Cohen's deposition be made public. Rather than stepping in, Judge Cronan asked the two sides to find common ground. Whether they will do so remains to be seen, but you may get a few more shocking twists and turns in the coming days. Like all of Cohen's antics, the case is bound to be filled with drama.