File – In this Oct. 26, 2009, file photo, comedian Bill Cosby and his wife Camille enter the Kennedy Center in Washington. According to a transcript of the deposition released Friday, May 20, 2016, Camille Cosby refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative February deposition. She was subjected to intense questioning by a lawyer for seven women who claim the comedian branded them as liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them decades ago. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
BOSTON (AP) — Bill Cosby’s wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them decades ago, according to a transcript released Friday.
Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women’s lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband “acted with a lack of integrity” during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power “to manipulate young women.”
Camille Cosby did not answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses.
About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty.
Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition on Feb. 22 and again on April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled that she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband.
Camille Cosby’s lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women’s lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: “Don’t lecture me. Just keep going with the questions.”
Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had.
“Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?” Cammarata asked.
She didn’t answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege.
Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she’s his daughter. He acknowledged that he had an affair with her mother and had given her money.
“Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?” Cammarata asked.
“It was a big deal then, yes,” Camille Cosby replied.
The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, about an hour’s drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. They have four children; a fifth died.
An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony on Wednesday.
In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15 years old.
Bill Cosby’s former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth’s attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner’s testimony will remain under seal for now.
Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.
The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify people who say they’re victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.
AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.