Lawyers may try to use Bill Cosby's own words against him

AP News
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Posted: Jul 20, 2015 3:56 PM
Lawyers may try to use Bill Cosby's own words against him

Bill Cosby's lurid, decade-old testimony about his philandering could do more than damage what's left of his fatherly image — it could very well be used against him in court by some of the women who accuse him of sexual assault.

Rocco Cipparone, a defense lawyer in New Jersey who is not connected to any of the legal action surrounding Cosby, said Monday that what the comedian said under oath could wind up hurting him in civil or criminal cases if judges can be persuaded to rule the testimony admissible.

For Cosby to avoid being damaged by his own words, Cipparone said, "you'd have to navigate a virtual minefield."

Dozens of women have accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them over four decades, though few of the accusations have begun to play out in court, largely because the statute of limitations for criminal charges has run out in most instances.

Authorities have said one accusation is under criminal investigation in California, and three others are part of a defamation lawsuit against Cosby in Massachusetts by women who say they were slandered by his representatives.

Cosby has denied committing any crimes.

Earlier this month, a judge sided with The Associated Press and released small excerpts from a deposition Cosby gave in Philadelphia in 2005-06 as part of a sexual-assault lawsuit against him that was later settled on confidential terms.

Over the weekend, The New York Times published a more detailed account of Cosby's testimony after obtaining all 1,000 or so pages of his deposition via a court reporting service. The AP then secured the same material.

Cosby recounted some of his womanizing in sexually explicit detail and said he gave women quaaludes in order to have sex with them. He denied giving the powerful sedatives to women without their knowledge.

He specifically said that was the case back in the 1970s with Therese Serignese, one of the women now suing him in Massachusetts. A judge is weighing a request from Cosby to dismiss the case.

"I think it's a treasure trove of admissions by Mr. Cosby that self-destructs his public moralist soapbox," said Joseph Cammarata, the lawyer for Serignese and the two other plaintiffs.

Cammarata said that he expects to use Cosby's deposition in his clients' case if it goes to trial — and that it's strong evidence. "It's the equivalent of testifying in court," he said.

Celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents several woman who say Cosby assaulted them, said the testimony "demonstrates how deceptive, manipulative and disgusting that he was."

"It is no wonder that he fought to keep this deposition, which reveals his revolting predatory conduct, hidden from public view," she said, "but the truth is out now, and it will never be hidden again."

Cipparone said the women who are mentioned specifically in Cosby's testimony could use his words if they sue.

And even those not mentioned might be able to find ways to use his testimony to demonstrate that he has shown a pattern of behavior, especially if he opens the door by saying something now that contradicts his previous statements under oath.

Cosby's lawyer, Patrick O'Connor, told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday that the publication of information from the transcripts is not fair to his client.

"How that deposition became public without being court-sanctioned is something we are going to pursue and deal with very vigorously," he said. "It's an outrage that the court processes weren't followed here."