Bill Cosby's Deposition Must Be Unsealed

On Friday, Bill Cosby will have his day in court: the 78-year old comedian, despite his legal team's efforts, will be forced to testify under oath in a deposition by attorney Gloria Allred on behalf of her client Judith Huth, the woman who is accusing Cosby of allegedly assaulting her at the Playboy Mansion nearly four decades ago when she was 15 years old. Despite Cosby and his team's best efforts — led by celebrity lawyer Marty Singer — the deposition is moving forward; unfortunately, the public may never see the results of said testimony, which Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan agreed to keep sealed until at least December 22 of this year, conceding to Singer on that point. But Allred, who has been fiercely and publicly fighting for her clients, will surely show that same unrelenting fire come December in her quest for the deposition to be unsealed — and as I see it, that deposition must be unsealed.

If there are no legal measures taken regarding the over 50 allegations against Cosby — and so far, there has only been one that's been eligible for a lawsuit — then we can only try him in the court of public opinion. Friday's deposition will surely be a grueling one, and it falls on the same day that Dateline NBC is airing a special featuring 29 of the 50 women that have come forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault. Many of the women among Cosby's accusers are telling their stories despite the fact that the statute of limitations has expired. As recently as October 2, three more women have come forward in a press conference, represented by Allred, to tell their accounts of the alleged abuses they claim to have suffered — former Mrs. America Lisa Christie, Sharon Van Ert, an ex-cocktail waitress, and Pamela Abeyta, a chauffeur who claims that she knew Cosby at the time of her alleged assault. As Allred, who represents 26 of Cosby's accusers, has said herself: "These three courageous women want Mr. Cosby to be accountable for what they say was his misconduct towards them."

Cosby has been deposed before: In July of 2015, the Associated Press gained access to his testimony from 2005 in which he admitted that he obtained Quaaludes to inebriate women before having sex with them. And this deposition remained secret for ten years. In response to its leak, Singer claimed that the reason Cosby settled was allegedly "because it would have been embarrassing in those days to put all those women on the stand and his family had no clue. That would have been very hurtful." Cosby still has some defenders, but it is hard to argue with a testimony made under oath.

If this newest deposition remains sealed or somehow isn't leaked, the lack of transparency for the public in this case will be an injustice to Huth, who is putting herself through the emotional trauma of facing her alleged abuser. And it will be an injustice to the 50-plus Cosby accusers who have stepped forward to tell their stories. Recall the empty chair on the New York Magazine cover in July: it is not only the empty chair of the women too afraid to make accusations, but it can also symbolize the fact that Cosby's previous depositions have remained sealed. Suspicion is easily raised when facts are purposefully hidden.

And if Friday's deposition remains sealed upon December 22, then what kind of message does that send to his alleged victims? Cosby and his lawyer Singer will surely battle for the deposition to remain secret, but that opacity is dangerous. Though he has not yet faced any legal ramifications, Cosby's lawyer's attempts to even shield this testimony from the public do not bode well for public opinion of the famous comedian. His near-mythic celebrity status may have, for years and years, intimidated alleged victims enough to prevent them from coming forward, but the Los Angeles Superior Court owes it to the public to release that testimony, not only as an act of good will to Huth, but to make a statement that no one is above the law, famous, infamous, or otherwise. The truth is public property. Cosby's lawyer issued this statement last November:

Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.

Bustle has reached out to Cosby's legal representatives for comment, but did not hear back at the time of publication.

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