Cosby's wife to be deposed by lawyers of alleged sex assault victims

Comedian Bill Cosby and his wife Camille leave their New York apartment en route to Los Angeles in this Jan 16, 1997 file photo. PHOTO: REUTERS

BOSTON (Reuters) - Bill Cosby's wife of 52 years was scheduled on Monday (Feb 22) to face lawyers for seven women who have accused the comedian of sexual assault after a federal judge in Massachusetts batted back an effort by her attorneys to stop the deposition.

Camille Cosby's lawyers had filed a weekend motion in US District Court in Springfield, asking the judge to spare their client from appearing at the deposition, which will not be public. They said it would create a "media circus" and threaten her safety.

The lawsuit says Bill Cosby defamed the women when he accused them of lying about the alleged sex assaults.

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Bill Cosby's wife, who has publicly stood by him as he faces dozens of sexual-assault allegations, was deposed Monday in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by seven accusers and agreed to return next month to answer even more questions under oath.

US District Judge Mark Mastroianni rejected Camille Cosby's request and ordered lawyers for both sides to meet on Monday morning before the deposition.

Mastroianni ruled earlier this month that Camille Cosby would have to talk to lawyers bringing the defamation lawsuit against her husband, although she could not be compelled to reveal private conversations with him.

More than 50 women have publicly accused Cosby, who is best known for his role as the father in the 1980s television hit"The Cosby Show," of raping them, often after plying them with alcohol or drugs, in incidents dating back decades.

Most of the alleged crimes date too far back to be prosecuted. But just days before the statute of limitations was to expire, Pennsylvania officials charged the 78-year-old entertainer late last year with sexually assaulting a woman in 2005.

Cosby has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, but a Pennsylvania judge early this month rejected his request to dismiss the charges.

Tamara Green filed the Massachusetts lawsuit in December 2014. She was later joined by six other women who say Cosby sexually assaulted or abused and defamed them by calling them liars.

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