With the unsealing of Bill Cosby's 2005 deposition in which he admitted giving women Quaaludes before sex, the comedian whose public persona had already suffered massively in the court of public opinion, may now face a similar fate in the real courts, legal experts said.
Attorneys and legal experts say the judge's decision to allow Cosby's admission in an older civil suit to become public will bolster civil lawsuits against him and may motivate law enforcement to further scrutinize his behavior for more recent acts.
Attorneys for Cosby, 77, are currently asking the California Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a woman who alleges she was molested as a 15-year-old at the Playboy mansion in 1974. Judy Huth, who has publicly identified herself, is one of 47 women to accuse the comedian of sexual abuse. But most are beyond statute.
Cosby also faces a defamation suit by Janice Dickinson for his response after she accused him of attacking her.
Gloria Allred, who represents 17 of Cosby's alleged victims, said she is "hopeful" the admission will bolster Huth's case and prevent efforts by his lawyers to stop the litigation.
"This confirms the allegations of numerous victims who have said that he has used drugs in order to sexually assault them," she said.
For decades, she said, Cosby has attempted to hide his admission from the public.
"We are very gratified that it is now being made public," she said. "We are very hopeful that we will be able to use this admission."
In 1990, California enacted a law allowing victims of sexual abuse as minors to sue for conduct in decades past. But as a condition, it requires a mental health practitioner to certify there was a reasonable basis to believe the accusations.
Cosby's lawyers challenged Huth's suit, saying a lower court judge allowed that certification to be added after an initial filing. An appeals court declined to review the issue.
But legal experts say if any case gets to trial, Cosby's admission would be damaging.
"It substantially corroborates the claims of the victims that were given drugs and too intoxicated to give consent," said Dmitry Gorin, an attorney and former sex crimes prosecutor. "While Cosby doesn't say he raped the women, he does admit to sexual relations with drugged women."
John Manly, an attorney who handled hundreds of civil sexual abuse cases, said the courts may find it hard to toss out a case like the one before the California Supreme Court on technicalities.
"Judges are people and they now know this is someone who engages in this kind of behavior. There is no legitimate reason he would be giving women Quaaludes before sex except to suppress their ability to consent," he said. "I would expect law enforcement to take a serious look at Mr. Cosby."
Los Angeles police interviewed Huth, but prosecutors determined it was beyond statute from 1972, as has been the case so far with accusations nationwide. Under California criminal law, serious sexual assaults can be charged only from 1988 or later.
Manly, however, said Cosby's deposition may prove even more helpful in Dickinson's defamation suit against Cosby.
"That case isn't about to be dismissed," Manly said. "He labeled her with a bunch of names and this seems to support her accusations."
Lisa Bloom, Dickinson's attorney and Allred's daughter, said the deposition shows Cosby admitted under oath a decade ago to the "very conduct Janice Dickinson has accused him of — sedating women to make them sexually compliant."
"How dare he publicly vilify Ms. Dickinson and accuse her of lying?" Bloom said.
Bloom said so far Cosby has avoided being deposed in the case and now it is clear why. Her client, she said, is looking forward to proving her accusation that "Mr. Cosby drugged and raped her."
The first allegations emerged when a Temple University staffer sued Cosby, saying he drugged and groped her during a 2004 visit to his Philadelphia home. During that case, 13 other women came forward with similar stories. But the woman's attorney settled the case out of court in 2006.