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BOSTON (AP) — A federal judge in Massachusetts ruled Thursday that Bill Cosby‘s wife must give a deposition in a defamation lawsuit against the comedian, but said she can refuse to answer questions about private marital conversations.

In the lawsuit, seven women claim Cosby defamed them by branding them as liars after they went public with accusations that he sexually assaulted them decades ago.

A lawyer for the women has sought to compel Camille Cosby to give a deposition. Last month, a magistrate judge rejected Cosby’s bid to quash the deposition subpoena.


On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni upheld the magistrate’s ruling, but said Camille Cosby may refuse to answer questions that call for testimony prohibited by the Massachusetts marital disqualification rule. The rule generally prohibits spouses from testifying about private marital conversations.

The women’s lawyer, Joseph Cammarata, hoped to depose Camille Cosby on Feb. 22, but it was not immediately clear if that date is firm.

Camille Cosby’s lawyers praised the ruling. In a statement, they said the ruling affirms “the confidential nature of and protection afforded to marital communications.”