Bill Cosby urges sanctions in sex assault case

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Actor Bill Cosby speaks at the National Action Network gala in New York, on 6 April 2011Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Mr Cosby has always denied the allegations against him

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby has filed for court sanctions against a woman who accused him of sexual assault in 2005, claiming she leaked a deposition transcript to a newspaper.

Andrea Constand sued Mr Cosby but settled for an undisclosed sum.

Excerpts from his testimony appeared in the New York Times on Saturday, which detailed how he pursued women.

Mr Cosby, 78, is facing a series of sexual assault accusations dating back to the 1970s.

He has always maintained his innocence and has never been criminally charged.

His lawyers said Ms Constand should be "sanctioned" for breaching their confidentiality agreement.

Pay offs

Ms Constand was a former employee of Temple University - the Philadelphia college with which Mr Cosby was once closely associated.

She claimed she was tricked into taking drugs before being sexually assaulted by the comedian. She sued after a prosecutor declined to press charges.

All documents from the 2005 lawsuit were sealed, until a federal judge released redacted excerpts earlier this month.

They contained testimony from Mr Cosby, in which he admitted under oath to obtaining a sedative, Quaaludes, to give to women he wanted to have sex with.

Mr Cosby also revealed he offered money to Ms Constand, and other women who had made allegations, in the form of educational trusts.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Mr Cosby was one of television's biggest stars in the 1980s and 90s

On 8 July Ms Constand applied to have the entire deposition unsealed and to break free from any confidentiality restrictions.

The New York Times later acquired its own record of the 1,000-page deposition and posted details on its website.

But his lawyers argue Mr Cosby's admission to using Quaaludes in the 1970s does not mean he drugged and sexually assaulted women.

"Reading the media accounts, one would conclude that defendant has admitted to rape," the filing to the District Court in Philadelphia said.

"And yet defendant admitted to nothing more than being one of the many people who introduced Quaaludes into their consensual sex life in the 1970s."

An attempt to smear

They called Ms Constand's request to release the full details of the settlement as an "obvious attempt to smear" the performer.

She should be also be sanctioned for leaking the deposition to the New York Times through her "own hired court reporter", they added.

"This massive breach of protocol and of the parties' settlement agreement dwarfs the petty complaints (Ms Constand) makes in her motion," the filing states.

Most of the claims of sexual assault against the star are barred by statutes of limitations. They restrict the length of time in which legal actions can be taken after an alleged crime has been committed.

The accusations, which Mr Cosby has described as "fantastical" and "uncorroborated", have led to some of his stand-up shows being called off and the cancellation of some TV projects.

Timeline of allegations against Bill Cosby

Image source, AP

2002: Lachele Covington, a 20-year-old actress, reportedly files a police report saying she had been inappropriately touched. No further action was taken.

2005: Andrea Constand sues Mr Cosby for sexual assault. The case is eventually settled out of court in 2006.

2014: Over the year, dozens of women make public accusations that Mr Cosby sexually assaulted them. Live shows are cancelled across the country amid protests

November 2014: TV network NBC scraps plans for a new show with the comedian following allegations by TV presenter Janice Dickinson that he had assaulted her in 1982. Repeats of the Cosby Show are also pulled from cable TV

December 2014: Judy Huth sues Mr Cosby for molesting her in 1974 when she was 15 years old. Mr Cosby counter-sues, claiming she is trying to extort money from him

May 2015: Mr Cosby speaks publicly about the allegations for the first time. "I can't speak; I just don't want to argue; I don't talk about it," he told ABC News.