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April 20, 2021
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Cosby lawyer says he would have blocked rape deposition without deal

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Image: Actor and comedian Bill Cosby (2nd R), flanked by his security team, arrives for the second day of hearings at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Bryant/Pool

By Daniel Kelley

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) – A lawyer for Bill Cosby said on Wednesday that he never would have allowed the comedian to give a deposition in a civil lawsuit brought by a woman accusing him of rape if he knew his client’s words could be used for a criminal prosecution.

Cosby, 78, was in court for a second day in suburban Philadelphia, where he faces charges of sexually assaulting a woman more than a decade ago.

His attorneys are asking the judge to toss out the charges, contending that a deal reached with a former Montgomery County District Attorney spared their client from prosecution in exchange for a 2005 civil deposition in which he admitted giving what he said was an anti-allergy drug to his alleged victim before a sexual encounter that he described as consensual.

Andrea Constand, now 44, has said Cosby plied her with alcohol and drugs before raping her.

More than 50 women have accused the once-celebrated entertainer, whose long career was based on family-friendly comedy, of sexually assaulting them in attacks dating back to the 1960s. Many of the incidents are too old to prosecute. The Pennsylvania case is the only incident for which Cosby has been criminally charged.

The former district attorney, Bruce Castor, testified on Tuesday that he had declined to bring charges in 2005 that Cosby had assaulted Constand, a former employee at Cosby’s alma mater Temple University in Philadelphia, because he did not consider her case “viable.”

Defense attorneys on Tuesday presented a 2005 press release from Castor’s office that they said amounted to an agreement not to prosecute Cosby.

The defense called Cosby’s chief attorney, John Schmitt, as a witness on Wednesday. Schmitt testified that would not have allowed Cosby to give the deposition if he had not been sure it could not be used against his client.

On cross examination, District Attorney Kevin Steele attacked the idea that Cosby’s lawyers would allow a deal that was never spelled out in a formal non-prosecution agreement.

Prosecutors on Wednesday are expected to begin making their case that there was no binding agreement not to bring charges and that the case against Cosby, who faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty, should ultimately proceed to a trial.

Castor said he believed Constand’s charges but thought a jury would view her as less than credible because she had waited a year to bring charges and had hired a lawyer to look into a civil suit.

He said declining to prosecute Cosby set the stage for a civil deposition in which the entertainer admitted to giving Constand the anti-allergy drug Benadryl before the sexual encounter.

(Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Will Dunham and Tom Brown)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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