Why Bill Cosby’s Sexual Assault Deposition Could Fuel More Prosecution

The embattled comedian will be deposed Friday in an undisclosed location – a legal expert weighs in on what questions he is likely to face

Bill Cosby
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Bill Cosby will find himself in a potentially very perilous position on Friday: Sitting for a deposition.

After failing to have Judy Huth’s sexual battery lawsuit against him thrown out earlier this week, the scandal-plagued comedian will be deposed by Huth’s legal representation, which includes Gloria Allred, on Oct. 9. The location for the deposition was not disclosed.

Huth alleges that Cosby brought her to the Playboy Mansion in 1974, instructing her to pretend that she was 19, even though she was only 15 at the time. While at the mansion, Huth’s lawsuit claims, Cosby “proceeded to sexually molest her by attempting to put his hand down her pants, and then taking her hand in his hand and performing a sex act on himself without her consent.”

Cosby has found himself in the deposition situation before, with painful results. In 2005-06, Cosby was deposed in relation to a sexual assault lawsuit brought by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. The suit was settled and the pair entered a confidentiality agreement. But while the contents of the deposition remained a secret for nearly a decade, the deposition was leaked and partially reported on by the New York Times in July, with a number of embarrassing details being unearthed.

Among the details: That Cosby admitted to obtaining Quaaludes to give to women he hoped to have sex with. It was a damning revelation, given that Cosby has been accused of drugging numerous women before sexually violating them.

Friday’s deposition will also remain under seal, at least until December, as the court reviews the deposition and the attorneys’ arguments over whether a protective order should be placed on it. However, in an effort to gain insight into how the deposition will unfold, TheWrap spoke to University of Southern California law professor Jody Armour.

Armour told TheWrap that Allred will grill the comedian with questions that aim to establish a modus operandi of Cosby drugging women’s drinks. She’ll also likely quiz the comedian on how he might mistake a 15-year-old for an adult woman.

“Some initial questions are, ‘Were you aware that this particular female was underage?’ ‘How could you not know that a 15-year-old was a minor?’ ‘Fifteen-year-olds don’t necessarily look like 18 or 19-year-olds, do they?’ Getting into the whole question of how reasonable or unreasonable or even reckless he was in concluding that this 15-year-old was of an age that he could have non-criminal sexual contact with her,” Armour said.

Cosby’s attorneys, meanwhile, will likely do everything in their power to argue that the allegations from the other cases — the alleged spiking of drinks, etc. — are irrelevant to the Huth case. Though, as Armour notes, Allred is “going to try to ask every possible question.

“It’s going to be on his attorneys to object on relevancy grounds, and then the judge is going to have to look at these objections and determine whether the witness is being cooperative or unnecessarily obstructionist,” Armour noted.

“A lot is going to turn on how reckless or reasonable he was to believe that this 15-year-old was someone whose hand he could take and place on a very private and sensitive sexual part of his body with a lewd and licentious intent,” Armour offered. “I can  see [Cosby’s attorneys] wanting to limit it to that set of questions only, and not get into any of the other questions that really got him into trouble before [with the Constand deposition].”

Huth’s civil case coincides with a separate criminal investigation ito allegations by model Chloe Goins, who claims that Cosby sexually assaulted her in 2008 at the Playboy Mansion. While the two cases are separate, Armour noted that the deposition in the Huth case could, in fact, have a bearing on the Goins investigation.

“If Gloria Allred is able to bring out any facts about his patterns of behavior, his practices that are similar to [the Goins] case, then they could be relevant to that case,” Armour said. “And any answer he gives in this case could come back to haunt him in that later case, because he has given a sworn deposition under oath that these are the facts.”

As to whether the deposition — like the Constand deposition — will be made public at some point, it’s anybody’s guess. As Armour noted, a judge would have to look at whether there’s a compelling reason to do so. But as Armour says, it definitely should give Cosby’s lawyers concern.

“The defense is going to take every possible step to make sure that this deposition remains sealed,” Armour offered. “I would worry about it if I were Cosby’s defense team. It’s already happened once. Even with their best efforts, they’ll reduce the likelihood that it will be released again, but they can’t eliminate that possibility altogether.”