WORCESTER, Mass. (Reuters) - Bill Cosby's wife of 52 years will have to submit to another day of questioning by lawyers for seven women who claim the comedian sexually assaulted them, but need not reveal intimate details of their marriage, a U.S. judge ruled on Tuesday.
In rejecting Camille Cosby's request not have to have to participate in another deposition, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Hennessy told a lawyer for the seven women to limit his questioning to relevant topics, castigating him for crossing that line in a February deposition.
Hennessy ruled that the new deposition will be limited to five hours and 45 minutes, with the two sides agreeing to hold it at a Boston hotel on Feb. 19.
"We're not going to have a repeat of some things that happened, I can assure you. That applies to both sides," Hennessy said during a hearing at U.S. District Court in Worcester, Massachusetts. "We're not going to have questions like, 'Were you asleep when you had sex with Mr. Cosby?'"
More than 50 women have accused Cosby, best known for his role as the father character in the 1980s television hit "The Cosby Show," of sexually assault, often after plying them with drugs and alcohol. The allegations, many of which date back decades, have toppled Cosby from his position as one of the United States' best-loved entertainers.
Most of the alleged crimes are too old to be criminally prosecuted. But authorities in Pennsylvania charged the 78-year-old actor with sexually assaulting a woman in 2005.
Cosby, who is out on bail, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
The seven women involved in the Massachusetts suit charge that Cosby lied when he denied sexually assaulting them.
Attorneys for Camille Cosby, 72, who also serves as her husband's business manager, had argued that a second deposition would only serve to embarrass their client.
"The plaintiff cannot, under rule, abuse or harass a witness with questions that are obviously embarrassing and obviously not relevant," said Daniel Small.
An attorney for the women, Joseph Cammarata argued personal matters are relevant given the nature of the allegations.
"The intent and the effect was not to be harassing or abusive," Cammarata said. "The intent was to gather information."
Tamara Green filed the Massachusetts lawsuit in December 2014. She was later joined by six other women who say Cosby sexually assaulted them and defamed them by calling them liars.
Cosby has countersued, accusing the women of defaming him.
Neither Cosby nor his wife were present in court.
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Alistair Bell and Alan Crosby