Legal setback for Cosby as civil cases move forward

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A US judge Friday refused to throw out a libel lawsuit filed by three women against Bill Cosby on the same day that the comedian was set to testify in a separate suit accusing him of drugging and sexually molesting a teenager in 1974.

In a 38-page ruling posted online by the Hollywood Reporter, Judge Mark Mastroianni of the US District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts, denied Cosby’s motion to dismiss the suit filed by Theresa Serignese, Tamara Green and Linda Traitz.

The three women say Cosby sexually assaulted them years ago, then called them liars when they went public with their accusations last year.

The decision was the latest legal setback for Cosby, 78, and came on the same day he was called to testify under oath in a Los Angeles lawsuit accusing him of drugging and sexually molesting a 15-year-old girl.

Judy Huth, now 57, said Cosby assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 1974. She filed suit against Cosby in December amid an outpouring of similar accusations by dozens of women against the former TV dad.

Since November, more than 40 women have publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault. Most have said the attacks took place after Cosby covertly slipped them knockout drugs. The alleged incidents span four decades starting in the mid-1960s.

Through his lawyers, Cosby has called Huth’s lawsuit “frivolous” and accused her of extortion. A judge Wednesday refused to dismiss it.

Cosby himself has not commented publicly on the accusations, and has never been charged with a crime.

In a 2005 civil suit for sexual assault that was later settled out of court, he admitted procuring sedatives in the 1970s to use on women he wanted to seduce, but insisted the encounters were consensual.

Friday’s deposition is the first time Cosby has been forced to testify under oath since the most recent accusations.

Plans for the questioning were shrouded in secrecy, with neither side disclosing the time or location or confirming it had taken place at all. Huth’s attorney, Gloria Allred, said she would give a brief statement about the deposition Saturday at a Boston hotel.

Huth is scheduled to give testimony October 15. Both depositions will be sealed by court order until at least December 22.

The former Cosby Show star is facing two other lawsuits tied to the accusations.

On Tuesday, a 25-year-old woman filed a civil suit charging him with drugging and molesting her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.

Janice Dickenson, a 60-year-old former supermodel who says Cosby raped her in 1982, has also sued Cosby for defamation in California.

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