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Cosby lawyer blasts release of deposition; calls it one-sided

The lawyer who represented Bill Cosby in a 2005 sexual assault lawsuit filed by a former Temple University employee said Sunday his client had been treated unfairly by the release of new excerpts from a deposition Cosby gave in the case.

The lawyer who represented Bill Cosby in a 2005 sexual assault lawsuit filed by a former Temple University employee said Sunday his client had been treated unfairly by the release of new excerpts from a deposition Cosby gave in the case.

Published Saturday by the New York Times, the excerpts included sworn testimony in which Cosby discussed his serial philandering, his use of his celebrity to bed starstruck young women, and his use of drugs in sexual encounters.

But, lawyer Patrick O'Connor said in his first public statements since the transcript's release, that's only one side of the story. A confidentiality clause in the case's 2006 settlement agreement bars Cosby from responding, and the two-day deposition of his accuser, Andrea Constand, remains under seal.

O'Connor said Sunday that he believed the release of Cosby's deposition transcript violated the terms of the settlement.

"How that deposition became public without being court-sanctioned is something we are going to pursue and deal with very vigorously," O'Connor, vice chairman of the Cozen O'Connor law firm, said Sunday in a telephone interview. "It's an outrage that the court processes weren't followed here."

The excerpts released by the Times offered few new details likely to alter Cosby's legal situation. He did not admit to sexually assaulting Constand or the 13 other women she had lined up as potential witnesses in her case. He portrayed as consensual any drug use by the women with whom he had sexual encounters.

Still, his words appeared all but certain to further erode his image as America's sitcom dad and a public moralizer to the African American community.

The transcript's release also refocused attention on O'Connor's dual role in the case. As he defended Cosby against allegations that he drugged and molested Constand, he also was serving as a member of Temple's board of trustees. He is now that board's chairman.

Constand left her job as operations director for the university's women's basketball program before she filed the suit.

Cosby, a Temple alum who had been the public face of the university for decades and a fixture at commencements, remained on the board of trustees for 30 years until last December, when he resigned amid new attention being paid to decades-old allegations of sexual assault from nearly two dozen women.

Art Hochner, a business professor and president of the 1,400-member faculty union, said the university has an obligation to address the allegations against Cosby.

"We've heard nothing from him about this," Hochner said of O'Connor. "I think Temple owes it to its employees and its students to talk about this. I don't think they should just ignore this, especially considering that sexual assault and sexual discrimination are big issues on college campuses."

David Harrington Watt, a longtime Temple history professor, agreed. "Many members of the faculty are deeply puzzled by one member of the Board of Trustees being charged with serious violations . . . and then being defended by another member of the board," he said.

O'Connor, who has noted he is bound by a court confidentiality order, said Cosby had the right to counsel and that he had a right to do his job as a lawyer. "I have every right to make my living in that regard," O'Connor said Sunday.

Temple President Neil D. Theobald issued a statement saying Temple's "administration . . . knew nothing of the previously sealed disclosures about Bill Cosby that have recently appeared in the news media. To our understanding, this deposition was subject to a confidentiality order and only those involved in the case were privy to its contents."

Until Saturday, Cosby's testimony in the Constand case was thought to have been sealed by a federal judge in Philadelphia.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno unsealed several old filings from the case in which the deposition was quoted. That move prompted Constand's lawyer, along with attorneys for two other women who had accused Cosby of sexual assault and are now suing him for defamation, to seek the release of the full transcript of Cosby's deposition. Robreno has not yet ruled on their requests.

The Times, however, reported that it obtained the full 1,000-page transcript of Cosby's testimony after discovering it already was publicly available through a court reporting service. The Inquirer's efforts to obtain a copy of the transcript Sunday were unsuccessful.

In the excerpts published by the Times, Cosby testified that he considered himself a deft reader of emotional cues in sexual situations, and yet went to elaborate lengths to pay off sexual partners who later accused him of assault.

Cosby testified that he obtained seven prescriptions in the 1970s for Quaaludes, a powerful sedative, to use in what he described as consensual sexual encounters with women, but said he never took the pills himself because they made him sleepy. "Quaaludes happen to be the drugs that kids, young people were using to party with," he said of the late '70s. "There were times when I wanted to have them just in case."

He went on to describe techniques he used to seduce younger women, often relying on his celebrity and first approaching them in a mentor-like role, the Times reported.

At one point, Constand's lawyer Delores Troiani asked Cosby to respond to an account from Beth Ferrier, a woman who alleged Cosby drugged and assaulted her in the 1980s. Ferrier had said Cosby took her back to his New York City home after a dinner and began asking questions about her career and her father, who had died of cancer.

"Did you ask her those questions because you wanted to have sexual contact with her?" Troiani asked.

Cosby responded, "Yes."

At times, Troiani appeared taken aback by Cosby's attitude toward the allegations. "I think you're making light of a very serious situation," she said, to which Cosby replied, "That may very well be."

Of Constand, Cosby's attitude was clear. Asked by Troiani what he thought of the fact that Constand had cried during an earlier portion of the depositions, Cosby responded: "I think Andrea is a liar," he said. "I know she's a liar because I was there. I was there."

Whether Cosby is guilty of a crime or not, Hochner said, "it's just a big black mark on his integrity and by extension, by association, on Temple University's integrity. They defended him instead of protecting an employee."

For Grace Holleran, a Temple senior from Philadelphia, the new release was further confirmation that her school needed to cut ties with the comedian. She wrote a piece last year in the Temple News, the student newspaper, that criticized the university for not distancing itself.

"This is exactly why I thought Temple should be on the safe side and kind of divorce itself from Bill Cosby," said Holleran, 22, a music major. "All of our worst fears are confirmed."