As accusation after accusation has come to light in the last few years that her husband, Bill Cosby, had allegedly drugged and/or sexually assaulted dozens of women, Camille Cosby has stood by the man she married 52 years ago.
But in a conference room of a Marriott hotel in Springfield, Mass. Monday, Camille, 71, was ordered to speak about her husband during a deposition connected to a defamation lawsuit filed in federal court by seven women who allege that statements made by Cosby’s representatives portray them as liars, after they claimed that Bill drugged and/or sexually assaulted them.
Yet in the over seven hours the deposition was held, just two-and-a-half hours were actual testimony. The remainder of the time was spent going back and forth between lawyers about what Camille could and could not say, and with two phone calls to a judge “to elicit help,” said Joseph Cammarata in a press conference tonight.
“I got the sense she didn’t want to be there,” Cammarata said. At least “a dozen” times Cosby’s attorneys claimed Camille did not have to answer questions due to a rule disqualifying spouses from testifying against each other.
Attorneys for Cosby were not available for comment.
While Cammarata declined to describe what he elicited from Camille, he described the day “as fruitful in a sense and frustrating in a sense. You have to come back and start the process again.”
The deposition will resume March 14, either in Springfield or Boston, Cammarata said.
This is believed to be Camille’s first testimony since more than 50 women began to go public in 2014 with accusations against the entertainer.
When asked what he hoped to gain from Camille, Cammarata said she “is his wife, she lives with him, understands the nature of his relationships.” He added: “She can observe things. She is a living, breathing human.”
He hopes that Camille’s observations will help a jury decide if Cosby “is a truth teller.”
Cammarata had said he sought from to learn from her “issues important to the case” and about the entertainer’s “relationship to her, to other women.”
“I think her testimony is significant,” he said.
She filed in Springfield, not far from where Cosby has a home. In the last year, six other women joined the suit.
Cosby countered by filing a defamation lawsuit this past December against all seven, claiming “each defendant has maliciously and knowingly published multiple false statements and accusations” about him.
Cosby’s attorneys have fought for months to delay the deposition, and claimed in a motion filed Saturday that their client “has had no involvement with the facts or allegations underlying this case.”
U.S. District Judge Mark G. Mastroianni late Sunday night ordered the entertainer’s wife late to give testimony on Monday about her husband.
Monique Pressley, an attorney for Cosby, argued before Mastroianni in a brief status conference early Monday morning that holding the hearing at the Marriott posed a security threat and that news media could “intimidate or emotionally aggravate this witness.”
But Mastroianni noted that “it’s not the first time a deposition of some notoriety” has taken place at the venue and that he expects that hotel security was adequate.
About a dozen reporters have been kept at bay at one end of a long hallway, with black curtains hung from wall to wall to block any view of the conference room at the other end of the hall. Camille avoided a row of TV cameras lined up outside the hotel by entering the hotel through a parking garage.
A judge earlier this month ruled that Camille must answer some questions during the depostion while also, as a spouse, was allowed to refuse answering others.
Cammarata intended “to get the information important to the case,” he said as he stood on the courthouse steps Monday morning. “We expect to probe carefully and respectfully.”
While Cosby s attorneys are in Springfield working to defend him on the defamation suit, the entertainer is facing aggravated indecent assault charges in Pennsylvania.
Cosby, 78, has been charged with allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion in January 2004. He has not yet entered a plea in the criminal case, and is scheduled to appear in court March 8 for a preliminary hearing.
• Reporting By Nicole Weisensee Egan