US judge postpones Cosby's sworn deposition

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby arriving at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Pennsylvania, on Feb 3, 2016.
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby arriving at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Pennsylvania, on Feb 3, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA • A California judge on Wednesday indefinitely postponed a sworn deposition of comedian Bill Cosby in a sexual assault lawsuit against him, citing his right to avoid selfincrimination in a separate criminal case pending in Pennsylvania.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig Kaplan said he granted the delay in recognition that Cosby's constitutional prerogative to remain silent in the face of criminal prosecution could limit his ability to answer questions under oath in civil proceedings.

He also put on hold any further deposition of Judy Huth, who brought the civil lawsuit alleging Cosby plied her with alcohol and molested her in 1974 at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles when she was 15.

Wednesday's ruling could portend similar delays in several other lawsuits accusing the entertainer of sexual misconduct.

Former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Dmitry Gorin said: "There's a great risk that all these lawsuits are going to be put off for an indefinite period of time, specifically until the criminal case ends."

Cosby, 78, who is free on bail in the Pennsylvania case, had been scheduled to submit to questioning under oath from Huth's attorney Gloria Allred on April 7.

She previously deposed him in October.

The judge ruled that depositions of other witnesses in the case could proceed and Ms Allred said she planned to take a sworn statement from Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner.

More than 50 women have come forward over the past two years to accuse Cosby of rape and other sexual wrongdoings.

Most involve encounters said to have occurred a decade or more ago, exceeding the statute of limitations for legal action.

The comedian, who personified the model family man in the television series The Cosby Show, has acknowledged marital infidelity, but denied engaging in nonconsensual sexual behaviour.

At least nine women are suing him for defamation, claiming they were smeared by his public assertions that they fabricated their stories.

Huth filed her suit under a California law allowing victims of childhood abuse to sue beyond the statute of limitations if, within the last three years, they have realised they suffered from psychological damage that had been repressed.

Cosby's attorneys argued that was not the case for her because "she tried to sell her story to the tabloids nearly a decade ago".

The judge has set an April 14 hearing to consider those arguments.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2016, with the headline 'US judge postpones Cosby's sworn deposition'. Print Edition | Subscribe