LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Bill Cosby and his former lawyer were ordered on Monday to give sworn depositions in the defamation lawsuit brought by an ex-supermodel who says they falsely called her a liar after she publicly accused the comedian of sexually assaulting her three decades ago.
The ruling by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Debra Weintraub marks the second time in two months that Cosby, 78, will be required to testify under oath in response to a complaint of sexual misconduct against him.
In this case, he and Martin Singer, a prominent Los Angeles attorney who had represented Cosby until he was replaced last month with a new legal team, must submit to questions from lawyers of onetime model and reality TV personality Janice Dickinson.
The judge ruled that both depositions are to be taken by Nov. 25, but stipulated nothing in her order would override attorney-client privilege. Cosby’s lawyers said they would appeal her decision.
Dickinson, 60, is one of the best known of more than 50 women who have come forward to accuse Cosby of sexually assaulting them after plying them with drugs or alcohol, allegations that the comedian has denied.
Cosby has never been criminally charged. And many of the alleged incidents date back decades, putting them beyond the statute of limitations.
But Dickinson is seeking damages on grounds she was defamed by Cosby and Singer when they asserted in statements to the media that her account of being drugged and raped by Cosby in 1982 was a fabrication. She did not report the incident to police at the time for fear of retribution by Cosby, “who was and is a wealthy, powerful man,” Dickinson said in court papers.
Her complaint mirrors defamation claims brought by at least two other accusers. A fourth woman suing on the basis of psychological injuries she claimed to have suffered from an alleged sexual assault in 1974 won a court order that forced Cosby to give a deposition last month.
Weintraub ruled that information Dickinson sought in opposing Cosby’s motion to dismiss her lawsuit would not be readily attainable through normal discovery proceedings, making a deposition necessary. Cosby’s lawyers argued it was premature to depose their client.
The only other time Cosby has testified under oath in such a case was in a deposition for a lawsuit brought by a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand, with whom he reached a settlement in 2006.
But a federal judge in July released redacted excerpts from that deposition in which Cosby acknowledged having obtained Quaaludes, the brand name for a sedative widely abused as a recreational drug in the 1970s, with the intent of giving the pills to young women in order to have sex with them.
Dickinson’s lawyers cited that testimony in making their argument for a chance to conduct their own deposition of Cosby.
His lawyers insist the sexual relations Cosby referred to were consensual and that his deposition did not constitute an admission of wrongdoing.
Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler