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Cosby’s wife refuses to answer questions nearly 100 times in deposition

The Washington Post The Washington Post 9/03/2016 Karen Heller, Manuel Roig-Franzia
Comedian Bill Cosby and his wife Camille in 2009. © Jacquelyn Martin/AP Comedian Bill Cosby and his wife Camille in 2009.

Camille Cosby refused to answer questions at least 98 times, citing marital or attorney-client privilege, during a contentious deposition that became public when a transcript was filed earlier this week in a federal court in Massachusetts.

Cosby had been ordered to testify in a lawsuit filed by seven women who claim her husband, comedy legend Bill Cosby, defamed them after they asserted that he had sexually assaulted them.

The videotaoped questioning took place in February in front of one of the comedian’s accusers, Therese Serignese, who joined a raft of lawyers for the sworn testimony in a Massachusetts hotel conference room.

Camille Cosby repeatedly resisted answering whether she knew about various lawsuits involving her husband.

At one point, Joseph Cammarata, an attorney for the women suing Bill Cosby, asked her whether she was aware of the lawsuit that had been filed against her husband by “these ladies in the case,” the case for which she was being deposed.

Cosby addresses the crowd in front of his wife, Camille Cosby, after being honored during the Apollo Theatre's 75th anniversary gala in 2009. © Lucas Jackson / Reuters Cosby addresses the crowd in front of his wife, Camille Cosby, after being honored during the Apollo Theatre's 75th anniversary gala in 2009.

“I don’t know,” she answered.

Cosby and her attorneys, citing marital and attorney-client privileges, also resisted answering whether she was aware of widely reported facts, such as the lawsuit filed against her husband by Andrea Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball official.

Cosby’s reticence drew a lecture from Cammarata.

“Let me just say one thing just to be clear, Mrs. Cosby, that your refusal to answer as a witness, you just can’t refuse to answer a question,” Cammarata said.

Camille Cosby said she never read the deposition in the decade-old Constand case, in which the entertainer admitted he had acquired Quaaludes to give to women with whom he hoped to have sex. The deposition, first reported by the New York Times and then by several other publications, became public in last July. In December, Bill Cosby was criminally charged with sexual assault in Pennsylvania related to Constand’s allegations that he drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004.

The deposition is believed to be the first time that Camille Cosby has provided testimony since more than 50 women went public with allegations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted and, in several instances, drugged them. The behavior, the women allege, spanned decades, dating to the 1960s. Serignese, the accuser who sat in on Camille Cosby’s deposition in February, says Bill Cosby drugged and raped her in 1976 in a bathroom in Las Vegas.

Bill Cosby has denied assaulting the women. His attorney and spokesman declined to comment on his wife’s deposition.

Former model and lawyer Tamara Green filed the initial defamation suit against the comedian in December 2014 in federal court in Springfield, Mass., because the Cosbys’ primary residence is an estate in Shelburne Falls, an hour’s drive north. Bill Cosby filed a countersuit against the women in December.

The deposition was opposed vehemently by the entertainer’s lawyers, who argued that Camille Cosby “has had no involvement with the facts of allegations underlying this case” and that her participation will create “an unnecessary media circus and personal security threat that serves no purpose other than to harass and embarrass her.”

Camille Cosby’s deposition occurred in the Springfield Marriott, a venue opposed by her attorneys. The news media would “intimidate or emotionally aggravate this witness,’’ Cosby attorney Monique Pressley argued at a hearing before the deposition.

In an echo of her husband’s contested deposition in the Constand civil lawsuit, Cosby sat for seven hours but provided only 21/2 hours of testimony. The magistrate judge had to be contacted twice, Cammarata said after the deposition in February.

“I got the sense that she didn’t want to be there today,” Cammarata said after the proceedings.

The resumption of her deposition has yet to be scheduled, and a location has not been determined. Bill Cosby’s deposition also must be scheduled.

The tense atmosphere in the February deposition was illustrated by a sharp exchange between attorneys. When Christopher Tayback, one of Camille Cosby’s attorneys, asked for a break, Cammarata seemed to respond jokingly.

“I’ll buy you the break,” Cammarata said.

“You’re not buying me anything,” Tayback responded.

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