Bill Cosby‘s admission that he obtained Quaaludes to give to women with is a “smoking gun” that will most likely torpedo his career, a legal expert told TheWrap on Tuesday. Moreover, it could have dire consequences for Cosby in an ongoing defamation case against him.
In the wake of Monday’s release of a 2005 deposition, in which Cosby testified that he acquired the sedatives to give to young women he wanted to have sex with, TheWrap spoke to legal experts about the possible ramifications of the bombshell revelation.
Jody Armour, a law professor at the University of Southern California, said that the admission appears to be the tipping point at which even the comedian’s staunchest defenders — with the possible exception of Whoopi Goldberg , who defended Cosby on “The View” Tuesday — may end their support.
“Before this latest revelation, you still had a good number of people who were, if not apologists for Cosby, at least skeptics,” Armour said. “After this particular revelation, I haven’t even heard them coming out. His old defenders seem to be chagrined.”
Asked if Cosby’s career is over after the latest revelation, Armour asserted, “Oh, yeah. Heck, yes.”
“This is a smoking gun. This is smoking-gun proof of Cosby’s willingness to drug women he wanted to have sex with,” Armour noted. “At the very least, everybody has to acknowledge that.”
From a legal standpoint, the deposition could be equally damaging. In recent months, dozens of women have come forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault, with allegations that he had drugged them being a
Three of Cosby’s accusers — Tamara Green, Linda Traitz and Therese Serignese — have filed a defamation lawsuit against Cosby claiming that their reputations were damaged by statements denying their claims made by Cosby’s representative, including his lawyer, Martin Singer.
Armour noted that the trio of plaintiffs have some hurdles to clear — for instance, they will have to successfully argue that defamatory statements were made within the statute of limitations, which is often shorter in tort cases than in criminal cases.
But if they manage that, Armour said, “the deposition is going to be powerful” as a legal tool for Cosby’s accusers.
“It will corroborate the accusers’ claims that he actually did what they said he did,” Armour said. “If we get to the defamation trial, these statements made by him in the deposition … suddenly, their claim looks like a sure winner, and he’s looking not only at compensatory damages, but probably serious punitive damages.”
While Hollywood insiders and his fans were rattled by Cosby’s admission in the deposition, David Diamond, a Los Angeles-based entertainment and criminal defense lawyer, told TheWrap that the most surprising element is that Cosby was allowed to make the revelations at all.
“What is most shocking is that the lawyer failed to protect his client in this case. I am surprised that Mr. Cosby’s lawyer allowed him to make those admissions,” Diamond said. “He should have had him plead the fifth and not have him make those admissions.”
Armour agreed, going so far as to say that the deposition shouldn’t have happened at all.
“He should have avoided that deposition at all costs and agreed to settle without the deposition,” Armour said. “You can be sure, in hindsight, he wishes he had.”
Cosby’s deposition could very well prove to be a liability in the defamation lawsuit brought against him. But despite the admission, neither Armour nor Diamond believe Cosby will ever face criminal charges due to the statute of limitations.
“I don’t see it,” Diamond said. “The reality is for criminal cases there is always a statute of limitations, the clock is always ticking and most of the limitations have come to a close.”
In the court of public opinion, however, Diamond agrees with Armour — Cosby’s career is done.
“You saw initial support when he was doing his stand-up routine,” Diamond said, referring to the comic’s 34-city “Far From Finished” tour that ran from last November to May. “Now the momentum is already rolling down the hill with such velocity that I can’t see his career having any chance of revival.”
Debbie Emery contributed to this report.