Los Angeles — Bill Cosby and his former attorney can be deposed by lawyers for Janice Dickinson in the model's defamation lawsuit against the embattled comedian, a judge ruled on Monday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Debre Katz Weintraub ruled Cosby and his former lawyer Martin Singer must give their sworn testimony before 25 November.
Dickinson, who is among dozens of women alleging that Cosby molested them, is suing Cosby for defamation over statements last year denying the comedian drugged and raped Dickinson in 1982.
The ruling states Dickinson's lawyers can only seek answers as to whether the denials were made maliciously, and Cosby and Singer can assert attorney-client privilege and refuse to answer some questions.
Dickinson never reported the rape to authorities and has said she was afraid if she did that her career would be damaged and Cosby would retaliate.
She sued Cosby in May, claiming she has been re-victimised and her reputation has suffered because of pointed denials by Cosby's attorney that the comedian drugged and raped her in a Lake Tahoe, California, hotel room more than 30 years ago.
The suit detailed Dickinson's allegations that Cosby raped her after giving her wine and a pill in the hotel room, and how she wanted to go public with her story in a 2002 autobiography but was prevented from doing so by the book's publisher.
Dickinson's ghostwriter, Pablo Fenjves, supported her account and said he and the book's editor talked Dickinson out of including the rape allegations.
"She was visibly shaken by the memory, full of anger," Fenjves said. "I basically said, 'Listen, we can't include that in the book. It's a he-said, she-said situation and he's a very powerful man.'"
Fenjves said he has already given a sworn statement in the case.
Cosby's lawyers want the case thrown out
Cosby's lawyers are attempting to throw out the case and Dickinson's lawyers argued they needed sworn testimony from the comedian and Singer to properly oppose their efforts.
Cosby's lawyer Christopher Tayback declined comment after the hearing. Cosby fired Singer, his long-time attorney, last month. Dickinson's attorney Lisa Bloom said she was pleased by the ruling.
Neither Cosby, 78, nor Dickinson, 60, attended Monday's hearing.
The lawsuit is one of several filed against Cosby. Singer has denied Cosby raped Dickinson. Cosby has never been charged in connection with any of the allegations.
Singer represented Cosby for more than a decade, and he was sued for defamation in 2006 by Andrea Constand, a Temple University worker who accused Cosby of abusing her and reached a settlement before trial. Constand's lawsuit focused on statements made by Singer denying Cosby drugged and abused her. The lawsuit revealed Singer had been involved in a deal with the National Enquirer that granted the magazine an exclusive interview with the comedian in exchange for killing a story about another woman accusing Cosby of abuse.
Singer also issued numerous denials that Cosby had drugged and raped women, including Dickinson's claims last year.
The judge cited the denial and said ultimately it may be able to prove that Cosby's denials, or Dickinson's claims that she was raped, are true.
"In other words, either the rape did occur or it did not occur," Weintraub said.