Cosby wants to keep court records sealed in defamation suit

Comedian was not in Worcester courtroom for Wednesday hearing

FILE - In this Dec. 30, 2015, file photo, actor and comedian Bill Cosby arrives for a court appearance in Elkins Park, Pa. Cosby's lawyers want to keep out of the public eye materials gathered as part of a defamation lawsuit filed by several women who claim he sexually assaulted them decades ago. U.S. Magistrate Judge David Hennessy will hear arguments Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in federal court in Worcester, Mass., on a confidentiality agreement that Cosby's lawyers are proposing. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

WORCESTER, Mass. (WWLP-AP) – Bill Cosby was not in federal court in Worcester Wednesday, where one of his lawyers said he is considering asking for a postponement in a civil defamation case against the comedian, in light of the criminal charges Cosby now faces in Pennsylvania.

Marshall Searcy said at Wednesday’s hearing inWorcester that the “new situation” has left the defense trying to decide on the best approach to move forward. The hearing was the first in Massachusetts since Cosby was charged Dec. 30 with sexually assaulting and drugging a woman inside his home near Philadelphia in 2004.

A lawyer for the seven women suing Cosby argued that Cosby’s scheduled Feb. 22deposition in the civil case should move forward.

The women in the case claim the 78-year-old comedian branded them as liars after they came forward with accusations of sexual abuse against him. He denies the accusations.  The women’s lawyers argued the proceedings should be transparent.

Joseph Cammarata, an attorney for the women said, “If somebodies reputation is harmed because the evidence establishes that they are not truth tellers. Well that’s where the chips fall.”

Magistrate David Hennessey didn’t immediately rule. He postponed the deposition of Cosby’s wife, Camille, that was scheduled this month, to February 22. That is expected to take place in Springfield.

Confidentiality of the case was also discussed.  Cosby’s lawyers wanted to keep materials and testimony out of the public eye for two weeks.

Magistrate Judge David Hennessy said the deposition testimony in and of itself would not be automatically be sealed, only portions that would be designated.

Now each side will be given up to 7 days to make a case for whether individual pieces of testimony should be sealed, and the other side will have 7 days to challenge.  Lawyers for the women agreed to the compromise.

“I think that this is an appropriate order protecting what may be legitimate concerns for confidentiality on a question by question basis,’ Cammarata said.

The lawyers for both sides will be back in that courtroom next Wednesday.  That’s when the federal judge wants this compromise on pre-trial information completed.

Copyright 2016 WWLP/AP. All rights reserved.

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