In this Nov. 11, 2014, file photo, comedian and Navy veteran Bill Cosby speaks during a Veterans Day ceremony in Philadelphia. A lawyer for Cosby says it would be “terribly embarrassing” if documents from a 2005 sex-assault lawsuit were unsealed in Philadelphia. Cosby’s lawyer on Friday, June 26, 2015, fought efforts by The Associated Press to unseal documents from a lawsuit he settled with a former Temple University employee. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby’s admission that he obtained quaaludes to give young women before sex could bolster criminal and civil claims being pursued by his accusers, their lawyers said after The Associated Press reported on newly released court documents.
Cosby in sworn testimony unsealed Monday admitted that he gave the now-banned sedative to a 19-year-old woman before they had sex in Las Vegas in the 1970s. He also admitted giving the powerful drug to unnamed others.
His lawyer interfered before he could answer deposition questions in 2005 about how many women were given drugs and whether they knew about it.
“So this confirms the suspicions, and also the allegations, of many other women who allege that they are victims of Bill Cosby, and who have suspected that he used a drug — quaaludes or perhaps some other drug — in order to take advantage of them,” said lawyer Gloria Allred, commenting on her understanding of the court documents.
She represents several Cosby accusers, including a woman who said Cosby molested her at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15.
Allred has been pursuing potential criminal charges in California on that woman’s behalf, while Cosby’s lawyers have been fighting the effort, she said.
The AP had gone to court to compel the release of a deposition in a 2005 sexual abuse lawsuit filed by former Temple University basketball team employee Andrea Constand — the first of a cascade of lawsuits against Cosby that have severely damaged his image as doting TV dad Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”
His lawyers objected to the release of the material, arguing it would embarrass him. Ultimately, a judge seized on Cosby’s public moralizing as he unsealed portions of the deposition.
“The stark contrast between Bill Cosby, the public moralist and Bill Cosby, the subject of serious allegations concerning improper (and perhaps criminal) conduct, is a matter as to which the AP — and by extension the public — has a significant interest,” U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno wrote.
Cosby, 77, has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct dating back more than four decades. He has never been charged with a crime, and the statute of limitations on most of the accusations has expired.
Cosby’s lawyers in the Philadelphia case haven’t returned messages seeking comment.
The Bounce TV network, which is geared toward black viewers, said Tuesday that it was pulling its reruns of the 1990s-era CBS sitcom “Cosby” from the air immediately.
On ABC’s “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg said Tuesday that she was still reserving judgment on Cosby, reiterating the stance she’s held since the allegations against him resurfaced last winter.
“You are still innocent until proven guilty,” Goldberg said. Cosby, she said, “has not been proven a rapist.”
“The View” co-host Raven-Symone, who starred on Cosby’s 1980s sitcom as a child, said she doesn’t like talking about the allegations because he helped launch her career.
“You need the proof and then I’ll be able to give my judgment here or there,” she said.
Cosby’s lawyers insisted during the deposition that two of his accusers knew they were taking quaaludes from him, according to the documents.
Nevertheless, attorneys for some of the women suing Cosby seized on the testimony as powerful corroboration of their accusations.
“The women have been saying they’ve been drugged and abused, and these documents appear to support the allegations,” said lawyer Joe Cammarata, who represents Therese Serignese, who met Cosby in Las Vegas and said she was sexually assaulted backstage. She is one of three women now suing him for defamation.
Cosby, giving sworn testimony in the lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting Constand at his home near Philadelphia in 2004, said he had obtained seven quaalude prescriptions in the 1970s. Constand’s lawyer asked if he had kept the sedatives through the 1990s — after they were banned — but was frustrated by objections from Cosby’s attorney.
“When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” lawyer Dolores M. Troiani asked.
“Yes,” Cosby answered.
“Did you ever give any of these young women the quaaludes without their knowledge?”
Cosby’s lawyer again objected, leading Troiani to petition the federal judge to force Cosby to cooperate.
Cosby later said he gave Constand, who was about 30 and had gone to Cosby for career advice, three half-pills of Benadryl, though Troiani in the documents voices doubt that was the drug involved. Constand thought he was giving her an herbal remedy for stress, she said in her lawsuit. She recalls having him touch her breasts and put her hand on his penis, and woke up to find her clothes askew, according to her lawsuit. Cosby called any sexual contact consensual, according to Troiani’s summary of his deposition testimony.
Cosby had fought the AP’s efforts to unseal the testimony, with his lawyer arguing that the deposition could reveal details of Cosby’s marriage, sex life and prescription drug use.
“It would be terribly embarrassing for this material to come out,” lawyer George M. Gowen III argued in June. He also said the material would “prejudice him in eyes of the jury pool in Massachusetts,” where Cosby is trying to have the defamation lawsuit dismissed.
The judge asked last month why Cosby was fighting the release of his sworn testimony, given that the accusations in the Constand lawsuit already were public. “Why would he be embarrassed by his own version of the facts?” Robreno said.
Lawyer Gayle Sproul, representing the AP, in court last month called Cosby “an icon” who “held himself out as someone who would guide the public in ways of morality.”
Troiani, summarizing her evidence, painted a starkly different picture.
Cosby “has evidenced a predilection for sexual contact with women who are unconscious or drugged. His victims are young, ‘star struck’ and totally trusting of his public persona,” Troiani argued.
Associated Press writers David Bauder in New York and Allen G. Breed in Durham, North Carolina, contributed to this report.