Bill Cosby to testify after US judge refuses to throw out sexual assault suit

Actor Bill Cosby attends the American Comedy Awards in New York, in this file photo taken Apr 26, 2014.
Actor Bill Cosby attends the American Comedy Awards in New York, in this file photo taken Apr 26, 2014.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP/REUTERS) - A California judge on Wednesday (Oct 7) refused to throw out a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims comedian Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her when she was 15.

Attorneys for the 78-year-old disgraced actor had sought to have Ms Judy Huth's lawsuit tossed, alleging that her lawyers had failed to follow proper procedure and arguing that the suit should not have included Cosby's name.

The comedian's attorney Martin Singer said that naming Cosby in the suit that was filed last December had harmed his client and encouraged other allegations by women who claim he drugged and sexually assaulted them decades ago.

However, Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan said that, while the case might have been improperly filed, he did not believe it would prevent Cosby from getting a fair trial.

Ms Huth alleges Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974 when she was 15 years old, and that she had suffered "psychological damage and mental anguish" as a result.

Cosby is scheduled to be deposed in the case on Friday (Oct 9) and had requested that his testimony be sealed to the public.

But Judge Karlan ruled on Wednesday that the deposition would be sealed for at least 60 days and set another hearing in the case for Dec 22.

He said he would determine at the hearing which parts of the deposition could be made public after reviewing the transcript, according to attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Ms Huth.

This will mark the first time that Cosby has been directed to testify under oath in response to sexual misconduct complaints since a deposition he gave in a Pennsylvania case he settled out of court nine years ago.

In the past year, more than 50 women have come forward with allegations against him including drugging, sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape, but as most incidents date back decades, it puts them outside the statute of limitations for legal action.

Ms Huth's case, however, cites repressed psychological injuries that she claims were only discovered in the last three years, allowing legal action under the statute of limitations, according to Ms Allred.

Cosby also faces a second civil lawsuit bringing sexual assault claims against him.

On Tuesday, 25-year-old model Chloe Goins who said Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008 when she was a minor, filed a lawsuit seeking a jury trial and at least US$75,000 (S$105,900) in damages.

Cosby's attorneys have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing by their client, who has gone from being America's preeminent father figure on The Cosby Show to a pariah.