Bill Cosby, after being deposed by attorney Gloria Allred about allegations he molested her client at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15, has dropped a Hollywood pit bull attorney in favor of a powerful downtown Los Angeles firm.
In court papers filed last week, Cosby replaced Martin D. Singer, whose clients have included former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in favor of Christopher Tayback of Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, a firm known for aggressively defending its clients and for employing many former federal prosecutors.
Tayback is a former Los Angeles County and federal prosecutor and son of the late TV actor Vic Tayback.
Singer was defending Cosby in a lawsuit brought by Judy Huth, who alleges Cosby molested her in 1974 at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15. Earlier this month, Allred, who is Huth's attorney, deposed Cosby and afterward announced that she would seek a second deposition.
Singer on Tuesday said he could not explain the split with Cosby because it was an attorney-client privilege matter. He said he agreed to a substitute of attorney and signed the court papers. "We are happy to assist in the transition" to new lawyers, he said.
Monique Pressley, a Washington, D.C, attorney for Cosby, confirmed Singer would no longer be representing Cosby in all cases in California.
Cosby is accused of sexually molesting or abusing about 50 women over four decades. At least a half-dozen lawsuits claiming either sexual abuse or defamation are currently being litigated, and at least one allegation is being reviewed by Los Angeles County prosecutors.
Singer has strenuously defended Cosby in both legal papers and the media and accused some of the alleged victims of making up their stories.
Allred reacted to the development Tuesday.
"Mr. Cosby has decided to hire 700 lawyers to fight one woman," she said of the new law firm. "Mr. Singer has represented Mr. Cosby from the inception of Judy Huth's case until now. Only Mr. Cosby and/or his representatives would be able to comment on the reason that Martin Singer is no longer representing Mr. Cosby and why this change has been made.
"We look forward to continuing our legal battle on behalf of Ms. Huth and this change will not impact our vigorous advocacy on her behalf," she said.
Allred said a deposition of Huth last week was delayed.
The contents of Allred's deposition of Cosby, which lasted for seven hours, will not be made made public until at least Dec. 22. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig D. Karlan, who is overseeing the Huth lawsuit, wants to review the transcript and allow each side to argue it's case about how much, if anything, will become public.
Everything about the deposition is a secret, Allred told The Times.
Singer's firm was unable to convince Karlan to throw out the Huth lawsuit. The judge rejected claims by Cosby's lawyers that the suit incorrectly named the performer when California rules governing older cases forbid such action.
Cosby's attorneys have argued that Allred is using the case for public attention. Allred represents 26 women who contend they were sexually abused by Cosby over the decades. Many of the women have alleged the comedian drugged them before nonconsensual sex acts.
Cosby has denied the allegations.
Huth alleges that she and a friend were in San Marino’s Lacy Park in 1974 when they wandered over to a movie set where Cosby was working, the lawsuit said. He approached the teenagers, invited them to sit in his director’s chair and asked how old they were, the lawsuit said. Cosby invited the girls to his tennis club the following Saturday, it said.
They met him there, then followed him to a house, where he served them alcoholic beverages and played billiards with Huth, who was required to drink a beer every time Cosby won a game, the lawsuit said. Later, the girls followed Cosby to the Playboy Mansion, where the comedian told Huth and her friend to say they were 19 if anyone asked their ages, the lawsuit said.
At one point, Huth used a bathroom and emerged to find Cosby sitting on a bed, the lawsuit alleges. The comedian asked the girl to sit down on the bed beside him and attempted to “put his hand down her pants,” according to the lawsuit.
He then took her hand in his and performed a sexual act on himself “without her consent,” the lawsuit said.
Huth’s lawsuit, filed in December, is the first significant court case against Cosby since he was sued in 2005 by Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee. After being deposed, Cosby settled the case out of court for an undisclosed amount.
Cosby’s attorneys contend Huth once tried to sell her story to the National Enquirer and that it is “absolutely false.” They contend that another lawyer for Huth tried to get up to $250,000 from Cosby in a settlement.
Follow Southern California crime: @lacrimes.