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Bill Cosby's wife faces fresh grilling in defamation case

Published 23/02/2016

Bill Cosby and his wife Camille (AP)
Bill Cosby and his wife Camille (AP)

Bill Cosby's wife, who has publicly stood by him as he faces dozens of sex assault allegations, will return to answer even more questions under oath , after being deposed in a defamation action filed against him by seven accusers.

The deposition, believed to be the first Camille Cosby has given since dozens of women came forward to accuse her entertainer husband of sexual assault, was given under heavy security at the Springfield Marriott hotel in Massachusetts.

Mrs Cosby and her legal team met lawyers for the seven women suing her husband for about seven or eight hours. A lawyer for the women, Joseph Cammarata, said she spent about two and a half hours answering questions and the rest of the time was a back-and-forth between lawyers on what she could or should answer.

He said a judge had to be contacted twice.

Mr Cammarata would not characterise his questions to Mrs Cosby, but said she was in a unique position to know a lot about her 78-year-old husband because she had been married to him for 52 years and has been his business manager.

"She's his wife," he said. "She has the ability to live with him, be with him ... understand who he associates with."

When asked afterwards about her demeanour under questioning, he replied: "She was someone that was reserved, and I got the sense she really didn't want to be there."

Her lawyers, who had tried to block the deposition, had no comment. Mrs Cosby continues the deposition on March 14.

After numerous women went public with sex assault allegations against Bill Cosby, Mrs Cosby, 71, issued a supportive statement, calling him "a kind man, a generous man, a funny man, and a wonderful husband, father and friend".

"He is the man you thought you knew," she said in December 2014.

She also suggested that her husband, not the women, was the party being harmed.

"None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim," she said. "But the question should be asked - who is the victim?"

The women claim Bill Cosby defamed them by branding them liars after they went public with their allegations.

Lawyers for Cosby and his wife have argued that she does not have any information on the accuracy of the women's claims and that her conversations with him are confidential under the state marital disqualification rule.

The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, about an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. They have four children; a fifth died.

The women in the defamation case are among about 50 who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct.

In December, Cosby, who played Dr Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992, was charged in Pennsylvania with drugging and sexually assaulting a former Temple University employee at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He has pleaded not guilty.

This month, a judge denied a motion by his lawyers to dismiss the charges. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 8.

Cosby's lawyers have said in court papers the deposition was "nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to pressure (the) defendant in the face of subjecting his wife to the shame and embarrassment of responding to questions about his alleged infidelities and sexual misconduct".

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From Belfast Telegraph