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Bill Cosby to invoke Fifth Amendment in civil lawsuit

The newly freed comedian will not answer questions about Judy Huth’s civil suit against him.

Bill Cosby Getty Images

Bill Cosby may have been released from prison in June, but the 84-year-old is still the target of a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles. In 2014, Judy Huth sued Cosby and claimed he sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15 years old. At the time, Cosby refused to answer questions for the deposition and the case soon took a backseat to Andrea Constand’s criminal case against him, which ended in his conviction.

Now that Pennsylvania’s highest court has overturned Cosby’s conviction, the comedian has been given another opportunity to testify in Huth’s civil suit. However, this week Cosby’s lawyers addressed a judge for the first time since his prison release and said he will again decline to speak on the sexual assault allegations, exercising his Fifth Amendment right.

“[Cosby] does not agree that merely because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated [his] criminal conviction for a single offense, allegedly arising from an incident that occurred in 2004, [he] no longer enjoys a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent,” Cosby’s attorney Michael Freedman told the judge ahead of his Friday hearing (Aug. 13).

“This is particularly so where numerous states have no criminal statutes of limitations for sex crimes,” he continued. “It is well-settled that the Fifth Amendment protects both the innocent and the guilty. Having already been forced to face a malicious criminal prosecution that resulted in an unlawful three-year incarceration, [Cosby] is not confident that such a risk does not still exist in this jurisdiction and others.”

Freedman added, “Indeed, prior to a stay being entered in this case, LAPD claimed that the Huth matter is an open criminal investigation. Thus, [Cosby] anticipates that if he is forced to sit for a deposition, he will exercise his Fifth Amendment guarantees absent a court order ruling that he has no Fifth Amendment right in this jurisdiction or any others.”

A California law previously extended the statute of limitations involving claims of childhood sexual assault. During his hearing today, Freedman said Cosby plans to “lodge a number of constitutional challenges” and urge the court to consider lifting the stay on Huth’s suit against him.

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