Criminal, other civil actions may follow
COMPILED FROM WIRE REPORTS
PHILADELPHIA – Bill Cosby testified that he gave powerful sedatives to a 19-year-old woman in 1976 before the two had what he described as consensual sex, according to court filings unsealed Monday from a 2005 lawsuit.
The 77-year-old comedian said under oath that he had obtained seven prescriptions for quaaludes, a depressant, with the intent to use them in sexual encounters with women.
He later clarified, saying he gave them to only the one woman – the 19-year-old, who he had met backstage at a Las Vegas comedy show. He maintained that the woman knew what drugs she was taking at the time.
“I give her quaaludes. We then have sex,” Cosby said. “I can’t judge at this time what she knows about herself for 19 years.”
The statements were made during a deposition as part of a 2005 lawsuit from another Cosby accuser, former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. She alleged Cosby groped her at his Pennsylvania home in 2004.
Cosby’s deposition was unsealed Monday by a federal court in Philadelphia over objections from his lawyers.
No privacy expectation
The court challenge was brought by The Associated Press nearly 10 years after the deposition took place. It was prompted by more recent accusations of sexual assault from more than two dozen women – many of whom say they were drugged and sexually assaulted in incidents dating back four decades.
Cosby has denied the allegations and has never faced criminal charges. His lawyers did not respond to calls for comment late Monday.
In siding with the news organization Monday, U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno said the entertainer’s past outspokenness on moral issues diminished his expectations of privacy.
“Defendant has donned the mantle of public moralist and mounted the proverbial electronic or print soapbox to volunteer his views on, among other things, child rearing, family life, education and crime,” Robreno wrote. “The stark contrast between Bill Cosby, the public moralist and Bill Cosby, the subject of serious allegations concerning improper (and perhaps criminal) conduct, is a matter as to which the … the public … has a significant interest.”
Cosby, whose public persona had already suffered massively in the court of public opinion, may now face additional problems. Attorneys and legal experts say the judge’s decision to allow Cosby’s admission to become public will bolster civil lawsuits against him and may motivate law enforcement to further scrutinize his behavior for more recent acts.
Attorneys for Cosby are currently asking the California Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a woman who alleges she was molested as a 15-year-old at the Playboy mansion in 1974. Judy Huth, who has publicly identified herself, is one of 47 women to accuse the comedian of sexual abuse. But most are beyond statutory filing deadlines.
Cosby also faces a defamation suit by former supermodel Janice Dickinson for his response after she accused him of attacking her.
Gloria Allred, who represents 17 of Cosby’s alleged victims, said she is “hopeful” the admission will bolster Huth’s case and prevent efforts by his lawyers to stop the litigation.
“This confirms the allegations of numerous victims who have said that he has used drugs in order to sexually assault them,” she said.
Legal experts say if any case gets to trial, Cosby’s admission would be damaging.
“It substantially corroborates the claims of the victims that were given drugs and too intoxicated to give consent,” said Dmitry Gorin, an attorney and former sex crimes prosecutor. “While Cosby doesn’t say he raped the women, he does admit to sexual relations with drugged women.”
Educational legacy remains
Cosby’s commitment to education issues is well-documented.
Long before he achieved comedic stardom, the high school dropout earned his GED and attended Temple University on the GI bill. Eventually, he obtained a doctorate in education.
Until the more recent sex assault allegations surfaced, he was a regular speaker on the college commencement circuit. At times he courted controversy with his frank, public tongue-lashings, especially to Black youth.
He served on Temple’s board of trustees from 1982 to 2014, when he resigned his seat in the face of unrelenting controversy.
All the while, Cosby and his wife Camille were bankrolling scholarships at his alma mater, including a $3,000 award that bears his name for juniors seeking degrees in the natural sciences.
Millions to Spelman
In 1987, the Cosbys – whose daughters attended Spelman College – gave a $20 million to Spelman, the single largest donation ever donated to a historically Black college or university.
The money helped establish the Cosby Chair for the Humanities, an endowed professorship. It also helped pay for the construction of the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center, the home of Spelman’s Museum of Fine Art, as well as the school’s archives.
The couple has also struck dozens of private arrangements to pay tuition for students through the Ennis William Cosby Foundation – a charity named after their son who was fatally shot during a 1997 robbery in California. It ceased operation in 2008.
The couple has rarely spoken publicly about their education philanthropy. But in 2003, Cosby described those whose college careers he helped to support as part of his “larger family.”
Jeremy Roebuck and Susan Snyder oft the Philadelphia Inquirer and Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times (TNS) all contributed to this report.