More than a month after having his conviction of sexual assault vacated, embattled comedian Bill Cosby says he will invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid speaking about other allegations of sexual assault.
Cosby’s lawyer Michael Freedman told the Los Angeles Superior Court judge presiding over a civil suit brought by Judy Huth, who accused Cosby of assaulting her in 1974 when she was 15, that he will use the amendment out of fear of possible criminal prosecution.
“Defendant does not agree that merely because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s criminal conviction for a single offense, allegedly arising from an incident that occurred in 2004, Defendant no longer enjoys a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent,” according to a status conference report made public Wednesday, reports The Hollywood Reporter. “This is particularly so where numerous states have no criminal statutes of limitations for sex crimes. 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, Defendant is not confident that such a risk does not still exist in this jurisdiction and others.”
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Because Los Angeles police say that the Huth case is an open criminal investigation, Freedmen said, “defendant 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.”
Huth filed her lawsuit against Cosby in 2014, and although he was ordered to sit for a deposition, he did not answer any questions. That case went on hold for years while more attention was paid to Cosby's criminal case in Pennsylvania.
He was convicted and ordered to serve 10 years in state prison. However, in July, that conviction was vacated because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that a "non-prosecution agreement" had been made with a previous prosecutor on the case, which should have prevented him from ever being charged in the first place.
But now that he is free, he is also theoretically free to testify in civil cases. In 2020, California law was changed to allow alleged childhood sex abuse victims to bring suit over old incidents; thus, the law could enable her to litigate against Cosby.
Freedman also said that he would challenge whether or not it was constitutional to abolish the statute of limitations for childhood sex abuse allegations. He notes that neither the California Supreme Court nor the U.S. Supreme Court has addressed the constitutionality of repealing the statute.