By Scott Malone
BOSTON (Reuters) - Attorneys for Bill Cosby are due in court on Wednesday to ask a federal judge in Massachusetts to seal all testimony related to a defamation lawsuit brought by seven women who have accused the comedian of sexual assault.
Tamara Green sued Cosby in December 2014, accusing him of lying when he publicly denied having sexually assaulted her, and six other women have since joined in the lawsuit. Cosby, 78, filed a countersuit in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts last month, accusing the women of defaming him.
The seven are among more than 50 women who have come forward to publicly accuse Cosby of sexually assaulting them after plying them with drugs or alcohol in alleged attacks carried out over a number of decades.
The accusations toppled Cosby from his pedestal as one of America's most-admired comedians, who built a long career on family-friendly humor. He was best known for his role as the dad Heathcliff Huxtable in the long-running 1980s television hit, "The Cosby Show."
Cosby has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. Last month prosecutors in Pennsylvania charged him with a 2004 sexual assault days before the statute of limitations on that alleged crime was to expire.
He faces several civil suits.
Cosby's attorneys are scheduled to argue before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Hennessy in Worcester, Massachusetts, that any testimony related to the lawsuits be kept under seal until trial.
"The law is clear: trial — not discovery — is the 'fact-finding' process in which the public has a common law and constitutional interest," Cosby's attorneys wrote in a filing this week. "Mr. Cosby's undisputed privacy interest and his need for protection from annoyance, embarrassment, and undue prejudice establish good cause to enter the limited protective order he seeks."
Attorneys for the women have argued that the request is unjustified.
"Cosby himself has sought out publicity when it suits him – for example, by defaming the plaintiffs as liars in 2014," lawyers for the seven women wrote. "That being so, the public should know all of the material facts surrounding this case, regarding whether defendant Cosby's private conduct comports with his public persona."
Cosby testified in 2005 that he had obtained the sedative drug Quaaludes, popular in the 1970s, intending to give them to young women he desired to have sex with, according to court documents unsealed in July as part of a separate legal proceeding.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by David Gregorio)