Cosby Loses His Bid to Prevent Another Lawsuit
Bill Cosby on Wednesday lost his bid to stop another civil lawsuit against him from going forward, but his deposition in the case will be sealed at least until December.
In a hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the judge in the case said questioning of Mr. Cosby under oath could proceed as planned on Friday, squashing a motion by the entertainer’s lawyers to throw out accusations against him made by Judy Huth, who says that Mr. Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him when she was 15.
But the judge, Craig D. Karlan, temporarily granted the Cosby team’s request to keep the deposition from being made public. He said he would not decide which portions of the deposition — if any — would be made public until another hearing in December.
“Let’s make it very simple,” Judge Karlan said. “There is to be no mention or discussion of any party’s deposition until we have our hearing on Dec. 22.”
Speaking before roughly 40 people who had gathered in the courtroom Judge Karlan said he was balancing the public’s interest and Mr. Cosby’s right to a fair trial. He said it would be better to first find out what Mr. Cosby was asked under questioning before deciding what should be disclosed.
Those were welcome words for Mr. Cosby’s lawyers, who have been fighting to keep the deposition private, particularly after events this summer when parts of a deposition in a 2005 case involving another woman, Andrea Constand, were published.
Although the location of Friday’s deposition has not been disclosed, the decision to go forward brings Mr. Cosby back into legal proceedings, and the public eye, after months of letting his lawyers do the talking for him.
It was the publication in July of excerpts from the 2005 case — which showed in his own words how Mr. Cosby unapologetically pursued women for sex — that deepened the crisis around him and intensified the public scrutiny of his behavior.
The revelations also seemed to act as a catalyst for a wave of new accusations from other women, who came forward in the last few months to claim that they had been drugged or assaulted by Mr. Cosby.
Neither Mr. Cosby nor Ms. Huth were at Wednesday’s hearing. Ms. Huth asserted that the assault occurred in 1974 at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. Mr. Cosby has never been charged with a crime and has denied accusations of sexual assault.
Since Ms. Huth filed her lawsuit in December, Mr. Cosby’s team has tried to stop the case from proceeding, arguing that Ms. Huth’s previous lawyer, Marc S. Strecker, had acted inappropriately in the way he filed the case.
More recently, Mr. Cosby’s lawyers have also argued that his deposition, which is to be videotaped as well as recorded by a court reporter, should remain sealed. They say that Ms. Huth’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, has repeatedly sought out publicity and would most likely do the same with the deposition.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Ms. Allred and Mr. Cosby’s lawyer, Martin D. Singer, sat next to each other at the same table, facing the judge.
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Mr. Singer said that previous news conferences held by Ms. Allred, as well as other publicity, had hurt Mr. Cosby. “He’s been tried in the media, and that’s the issue here,” Mr. Singer said.
But Ms. Allred argued: “I do think as an attorney I have a right to inform the public if I think there’s a danger to the public of a predator.”
The two sides are now likely to spend the next two months negotiating which parts of the deposition will be sealed. Those sections they cannot agree on they will put before Judge Karlan in December.
The judge’s order would restrict not only what could be disseminated to the media but also what could be entered into the public record in court if the case were to come to trial, experts said.
“These are very serious accusations, and should he be proven innocent, why should this be public information,” said Jerry Reisman, a partner in the law firm Reisman Peirez Reisman & Capobianco.
The Huth case is one of several fronts where Mr. Cosby is facing legal challenges involving women who say that he assaulted them.
On Tuesday, Chloe Goins, a model, filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in California. She came forward in January with accusations that Mr. Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008, when she was 18.
In addition, Los Angeles prosecutors said last week that they were reviewing the results of an investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department into Ms. Goins’ complaint, and would decide whether to charge the entertainer with a crime.
In the many other cases involving complaints against Mr. Cosby, the actions of which he was accused happened too many years ago to proceed to court.
But Mr. Cosby is facing a defamation case brought by three women in Massachusetts, which his lawyers are fighting to have dismissed, and another defamation case brought by a woman in California.