A federal judge in Philadelphia ruled Monday that attorneys for seven women suing Bill Cosby in Massachusetts for defamation can see much of the case file of a lawyer for the accuser in a 2005 sexual assault lawsuit against the comedian.
Judge Anita Brody denied a request from Cosby to block a subpoena seeking the file of former Temple University employee Andrea Constand's lawyer, Dolores Troiani.
Constand reached a confidential settlement with Cosby in the civil case. Late last year, Pennsylvania prosecutors charged Cosby criminally in the alleged assault on Constand. Cosby has pleaded not guilty.
Brody ruled the confidential agreement between Cosby and Constand "cannot block the disclosure of those materials to third parties" in a separate lawsuit.
"Even if Plaintiffs were required to produce a compelling justification for disclosure, one readily exists. The public reaps no benefit by allowing settlement agreements to suppress evidence," the judge wrote in her ruling.
The judge said she is not ruling on whether a jury in the Massachusetts defamation case will get to see the material, only on whether the lawyer for the women in the defamation suit can have access to it.
The seven women suing Cosby for defamation allege that he tainted their reputations by allowing his representatives to brand them as liars after they went public with claims that he sexually assaulted them decades ago.
Joseph Cammarata, a lawyer for the women, sought the Constand file to try to obtain evidence to bolster the women's claims.
"We look forward to the opportunity to obtain Mrs. Troiani's file materials. We expect that they'll be a treasure trove of significant information," Cammarata said Monday.
Cosby has countersued the women, alleging they have damaged his "honorable legacy and reputation" by falsely accusing him of sexual misconduct. A spokesman for Cosby's lawyers declined to comment.
The women named in the defamation suit are among about 50 who have come forward to claim that Cosby sexually abused them decades ago. He has denied the allegations.
Brody said the women's lawyer could have access to materials in the case file pertaining to the seven women and other women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. The judge granted Cosby's motion to block access to "any other subject matter" in the file.
Brody has jurisdiction to rule on the subpoena issued in the Massachusetts defamation case because Cosby filed his motion to block the subpoena in Philadelphia, where Troiani is based.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.