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Lawyer For Some Bill Cosby Accusers Reacts To Criminal Charges


We're going to hear now from a lawyer who represents seven women who also say they were assaulted by Cosby. These are some of the women who sued Bill Cosby last year for defamation, saying he called them liars. Cosby countersued earlier this month. I spoke with the women's attorney, Joseph Cammarata, after today's announcement in Pennsylvania.

JOSEPH CAMMARATA: It's a watershed day. It's a big, big step. We are excited that a prosecutor has made a determination, that despite the time that might've passed, people who commit wrongs in our society will be held accountable and brought before the bar of justice.

CORNISH: Describe the reaction from some of your clients today.

CAMMARATA: Well, I can't give you specific reaction so as not to breach the attorney-client privilege, but I think it's safe to assume that all the people that have accused him of abusing and assaulting them - that they are heartened and emboldened by the actions of the prosecutor and excited to see that despite the long delay, that justice is on a path to be accomplished.

CORNISH: For the women who you are representing, are they in states where maybe the statute of limitations has passed, where civil suits are their only recourse?

CAMMARATA: Well, even the civil statute of limitations has passed except for cases such as defamation, which we filed on their behalf in the federal court of Massachusetts. The criminal statutes, unlike Pennsylvania and the other states in which these women were residents who were actually - were allegedly abused and assaulted, have expired.

CORNISH: So with his criminal charge being filed in Montgomery County in Pennsylvania, what does that mean for civil cases of any kind. You have a defamation suit, obviously, but what, if anything, do these criminal charges mean for you, for your clients?

CAMMARATA: Well, it means that there is a body of evidence that can be used in the civil case in the sense. The claim is that they were sexually assaulted and abused by Mr. Cosby. Mr. Cosby denies that. It is relevant and helps to decide who's telling the truth if you look at Mr. Cosby's past conduct. And so when the prosecutor says that he sexually abused, drugged and violated Ms. Constand, that behavior is of relevance to whether or not the women in the civil case were telling the truth.

CORNISH: And that's important for a civil case, obviously, but of course, the guilty standard in a civil case - right? - is a lot lower than a criminal court where you need a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

CAMMARATA: In a criminal case, that's right. A conviction is beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, a plaintiff needs to establish the case only to the level that it's more likely true than not true.

CORNISH: What does this mean to some of your clients who have been countersued by Bill Cosby and by Cosby's supporters who said that they - that they're lying?

CAMMARATA: Mr. Cosby's entitled to his day in court. He's entitled to do whatever he wants. But as far as I see it and I understand it, here's a man who has sought to keep his prior relations with women secret, confidential. But by virtue of bringing this lawsuit against these women, he now has opened himself up to a public discussion of just those types of behaviors. So it's something that was expected. My clients are resolute in their determination to have their day in court, to get this case to a jury as quickly and as efficiently as possible. And they're confident that at the end of day, their good name and their reputation will be restored.

CORNISH: Joseph Cammarata, thank you so much for speaking with us.

CAMMARATA: Thank you very much - good to talk to you.

CORNISH: One more note - before today's events, Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille, were already scheduled for depositions under oath for Cammarata's lawsuit. Those dates are unaffected by today's criminal charge. Camille Cosby is due to appear next Wednesday in Springfield, Mass. Cosby himself is scheduled for February 22. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.