Bill Cosby Looks to Delay Defamation Lawsuit as He Fights Criminal Charge

Cosby hints he may have to assert the 5th Amendment if a stay isn't granted.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Earlier this month, Bill Cosby tried to have what happened in a decade-old civil lawsuit stop a criminal proceeding. Unsuccessful, Cosby is now turning in the other direction — attempting to use the criminal case to delay an ongoing civil lawsuit.

Cosby, of course, is facing fire on all fronts.

The most serious case is the criminal one in Montgomery County, Pa., where he faces a charge of sexually assaulting ex-Temple University employee Andrea Constand. The case was filed after his deposition in a decade-old civil lawsuit brought by Constand came to light. On Feb. 2, Cosby failed in arguing that a non-prosecution agreement with the former District Attorney — one allegedly made to allow Cosby to testify in Constand's lawsuit — was a violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and his 14th Amendment right to due process.

Cosby is also facing a lawsuit from Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, Linda Traitz, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis, Louisa Moritz and Angela Leslie over denials by his reps that they were sexually assaulted. Last November, a judge rejected Cosby's motion to dismiss, which put in motion more Cosby testimony to come. 

But now, Cosby wants the proceeding paused.

"The District Attorney of Montgomery County has pursued his charges at the eleventh hour, years after an initial investigation in 2005 determined that no charges should be filed," states his motion filed on Tuesday. "The state’s case relies on Defendant’s previously sealed testimony, given by Defendant in a civil case that was made public — demonstrating the direct impact that civil litigation can have on criminal matters. And it is precisely for such reason, i.e., the preservation of Defendant’s right against self-incrimination, that this civil action should be stayed during the pendency of Defendant’s criminal case."

Cosby says that if the judge doesn't delay the defamation lawsuit, he will "repeatedly face the quandary" of asserting the Fifth Amendment during the the discovery phase, which "may subject him to an adverse inference from his refusal to testify."

His attorneys also speak of the overlap between the civil litigation and the criminal case.

Cosby's legal brief says that "though it would be wholly improper in Defendant’s view, Defendant may face these identical accusers at his criminal trial, as under Pennsylvania law, even alleged victims of 'uncharged' crimes may testify in criminal trials in an attempt to prove a 'pattern of behavior' or 'propensity to commit a crime.'”

Cosby could soon be making similar motions in other pending civil lawsuits against him.

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