PHILADELPHIA (AP) - --Lawyers for Bill Cosby are urging a court Wednesday to reseal the comedian's deposition testimony about extramarital affairs, quaaludes and payments to women.
Cosby hopes the move could block the decade-old testimony from being used in his criminal sexual assault case or the legal battles he's fighting with women across the country who accuse him of sexual assault or defamation.
Cosby, 78, hopes to overturn a ruling that made the documents public last year at the request of The Associated Press. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court in Philadelphia is hearing his appeal Wednesday morning.
"A reversal by this court would allow defendant to argue to the various courts in which he finds himself a party - or may in the future find himself a party - that, because the unsealing order was erroneous, the unsealed documents, and information learned from the unsealed documents, should not be introduced in court as evidence against defendant," lawyer Patrick J. O'Connor wrote in a legal brief.
The AP calls the issue moot given the widespread coverage that followed the unsealing of documents that included excerpts from Cosby's deposition in accuser Andrea Constand's 2005 lawsuit in the court docket and, later, the release by a court reporting firm of the entire deposition. Only a few media outlets obtained the nearly 1,000-page deposition before Cosby's legal team warned them that it remained under seal as part of the 2006 settlement of the lawsuit.
The full deposition is therefore no longer available, but sensitive excerpts are still available in the online court filings unsealed by U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno.
"Indeed, due to the highly embarrassing and private nature of the information at issue, confidentiality was the most important term of the settlement to defendant," Cosby's brief states, noting the harm to his reputation and livelihood that followed the deposition's release.
Cosby, who's been married for more than 50 years, admitted to several affairs in the deposition and said he obtained prescription sedatives in the 1970s to give to women he hoped to seduce. That led prosecutors in suburban Philadelphia to revisit Constand's 2005 police complaint and charge Cosby with sexual assault in December, just before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.
Cosby is free on $1 million bail while a state appeals court considers whether a former prosecutor had made a binding promise that he would never be charged over Constand's complaint that Cosby drugged and molested her at his home.
The AP argued in its brief that resealing the documents would be "an affront to the public interest in transparency."
The AP generally doesn't identify people who say they've been sexually assaulted unless they agree to have their names published, as Constand has done.