wife must give deposition in civil suit, judge rules
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[February 12, 2016] BOSTON
(Reuters) - Bill Cosby's wife will have to talk to
lawyers bringing a defamation lawsuit against the
comedian but cannot be compelled to reveal private
conversations with her husband, a federal judge in
Massachusetts ruled on Thursday.
Cosby's attorneys had asked that his spouse of 52 years and
business manager, Camille Cosby, be allowed not to give a
deposition in connection with a civil suit brought by seven
women who have accused the man, once one of the United States'
most beloved entertainers, of sexual assault.
U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni ruled that Camille Cosby
could be deposed but would have the right not to answer some
questions. Cosby's lawyers had argued that there was a risk to
her reputation if intimate details of the couple's relationship
"The right to refuse to answer certain deposition questions does
not entitle a deponent to 'refuse to appear for any deposition
whatsoever,'" Mastroianni wrote. "The court is not convinced
that deponent should be permitted to avoid her deposition
altogether or that its scope or timing should be modified."
More than 50 women have publicly accused Cosby - best known for
his role as the father in the 1980's television hit "The Cosby
Show" - of raping them, often after plying them with alcohol or
drugs in instances dating back decades. Most of the alleged
assaults are too old to be criminally prosecuted, but
Pennsylvania officials late last year charged the 78-year-old
entertainer with sexually assaulting a women in 2005, with those
charges coming just days before the statute of limitations was
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Cosby has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, but a Pennsylvania judge
early this month rejected Cosby's request to dismiss the charges.
The Massachusetts lawsuit was filed in December 2014 by Tamara Green
and later joined by six other women who contend Cosby sexually
assaulted or abused and defamed them by calling them liars.
Cosby's attorneys welcomed Mastroianni's order, calling it in a
statement a "critically important decision by the court today ...
affirming the confidential nature of and protection afforded to
Cosby's lawyers asked a judge on Tuesday to put the lawsuit on hold
until the criminal charges were resolved. The court has not yet
ruled on that.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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