By order of a state judge today, the comedian and his former lawyer will have to face lawyers for another woman alleging that he sexually assaulted her. In a brief hearing Monday in L.A. Superior Court, attorneys for Bill Cosby were told by Judge Debra Weintraub that discovery and depositions will be permitted in the defamation case involving former America’s Next Top Model judge Janice Dickinson. The depositions of Cosby and his ex-lawyer Marty Singer must be made before November 25, the judge added today.
In their anti-SLAPP motion, Cosby’s lawyers had argued that Dickinson must prove malice, but the judge rejected that notion in the tentative ruling she read out in court. Citing provable false facts as the barometer, Weintraub said that “either the rape did occur or not occur and Ms. Dickinson is either telling the truth or not.”
In an ongoing saga that has seen dozens and dozens of women come forward with claims of sexual assault or molestation against the once-beloved actor, Monday’s decision comes less than two weeks after Cosby and longtime lawyer Singer parted ways.
While not a defendant, the Lavely & Singer attorney is named in the defamation case filed this spring by Dickinson. The plaintiff cites Singer as the lawyer who on November 19 last year said her account of being raped by Cosby was “a lie.” A press statement on November 18, 2014, also disputed the truth of Dickinson’s claim that Cosby raped her in 1982. In today’s ruling lifting the current stay of discovery, Weintraub also said that in Singer’s deposition, some attorney/client privileges may be a factor in the search for malice. The limited scope of the questioning will focus entirely on whether the statements about Dickinson’s claims were made with malice.
Christopher Tayback of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan replaced Singer as Cosby’s attorney last month and was in court today along with his colleague Justin Griffin. Lisa Bloom was in court representing Dickinson. “We are very pleased with the court’s careful and thoughtful ruling on the depositions of Mr. Cosby and Mr. Singer,” Bloom told Deadline after the hearing. “It was the right ruling.” Bloom also confirmed she will be conducting the depositions personally.
After keeping allegations and claims from several women out of the public eye for decades, this upcoming deposition will be the second time in less than two months that Cosby has publicly been in the legal spotlight. On October 9, he was deposed for several hours in Boston in the case of Judy Huth. That deposition could become public on December 22, depending on what the judge in the matter deems private.
No word on when the latest deposition will be made public, if at all.