A United States District Judge ruled Thursday that Camille Cosby can refuse to answer some questions about her husband, Bill Cosby. The judge says she will be protected under oath at her deposition by the Massachusetts marital disqualification rule.
Cosby's rep told BuzzFeed News the ruling was a "critically important decision by the Court today, agreeing with Mrs Cosby's appellate argument, affirming the confidential nature of and protection afforded to marital communications."
Camille had been scheduled to be deposed Jan. 6 in the defamation case brought by seven women against her husband, but she was granted an emergency stay until it was determined whether she could refuse to answer questions. In asking for the stay, Camille argued her private conversations with her husband were protected under the marital rule.
Judge Mark Mastroianni ultimately agreed those conversations were protected. But he also ruled Camille can be compelled to answer questions that are not protected by the rule and must participate in the deposition.
Camille can still be ordered to answer questions under certain exceptions of that marital rule, including if a third party was present and heard their conversations or if they were both jointly engaged in criminal behavior. The rule does not cover written communications.
"(Camille Cosby) may possess a good deal of relevant, non-protected information which can be uncovered at a deposition," wrote Judge Mastroianni in his ruling.
Camille has been fighting efforts to testify against her husband since last year. Joseph Cammarata, who represents the seven women suing Cosby, told BuzzFeed News he was pleased with the judge's ruling. Camille's deposition is scheduled for Feb. 22, according to Cammarata.
"We look forward to taking Ms. Cosby's deposition," Cammarata said. "She has a lot of relevant information and I'm going to get it."
The judge’s decision in the defamation case comes as Bill Cosby faces a separate case in which he was charged in Pennsylvania with three counts of aggravated indecent assault, a second-degree felony.
The charges stem from an investigation into an alleged sexual assault at the Cosby home in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, in 2004. Bill Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by more than 40 women over the years, but the action filed by the Montgomery County district attorney in December was the first criminal case to emerge as a result.
The Montgomery County district attorney in Pennsylvania charged the embattled comedian with three counts of aggravated indecent assault, a second-degree felony, on Dec. 30. If convicted of the second-degree felony, Cosby faces a maximum penalty of five to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine, according to prosecutors. His preliminary hearing is set for March 8.