Appeals Court Rejects Roy Moore’s $95 Million Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen
Four years after former Alabama senator Roy Moore sued Sacha Baron Cohen for $95 million over a prank in the actor’s Who Is America? series, an appeals court has rejected the defamation lawsuit.
In the segment, Cohen’s Israeli soldier character, Colonel Erran Morad lured Moore — fresh off facing accusations of sexual misconduct, including one from a woman who was 14 at the time of the alleged incident — under the guise of having a conversation about Israel and their technology.
However, during the interview, “Morad” produced a fictional “pedophile detector test.” “It’s very, very simple to use. You just switch it on and because neither of us is a sex offender then it makes absolutely nothing,” Cohen’s character said. When waved over Moore, the detector beeped.
“I’ve been married for 33 years and never had an accusation of such things,” Moore said. “If this is an instrument, I’m certainly not a pedophile, okay? Maybe Israeli technology hasn’t developed properly.” Moore then abruptly ended the interview.
While Moore — who said he was duped into the interview — had already lost his Alabama senatorial re-election bid at that point to Democratic candidate Doug Jones thanks in part to the misconduct allegations, Moore and his wife Kayla filed a $95 million defamation lawsuit against the comedian.
“This false and 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,” the lawsuit stated.
The lawsuit was initially dismissed in July 2021 by a federal judge, and upon appeal, was unanimously rejected by a three-judge panel Thursday, with the judges agreeing that the Who Is America? prank was “clearly comedy,” the Associated Press reported.
“Baron Cohen may have implied that he believed Judge Moore’s accusers, but he did not imply the existence of any independent factual basis for that belief besides the obviously farcical pedophile detecting ‘device,’ which no reasonable person could believe to be an actual, functioning piece of technology,” the court wrote in their decision to once again dismiss the lawsuit.
Following the court’s decision, the Moores said that they would appeal the appeal.