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Cosby lawyers urge court to keep Philadelphia sex-abuse case sealed

Over 50 women have come forward to publicly accuse Cosby of rape & other forms of sexual abuse.

FILE. Bill Cosby in May 2015. Picture: AFP.

NEW YORK - Lawyers for comedian Bill Cosby were headed back to court on Friday to fend off an attempt by his accuser in a Pennsylvania sexual assault case to have the secrecy clause lifted from their 2006 civil settlement.

At a hearing in US District Court in Philadelphia, lawyers for Andrea Constand were set to argue in favour of lifting the non-disclosure pact. Cosby is charged with sexually assaulting Constand, a former basketball coach at Temple University, his alma mater. She is one of dozens of women across the country who have stepped forward with similar accusations against the comedian that stretch back for decades.

In court documents the Cosby team has urged a judge to keep the entire case under seal. It argues that Constand broke the agreement when she cooperated with prosecutors, who reopened a criminal investigation and in December charged Cosby with sexually assaulting her in 2014.

The hearing in Philadelphia comes a day after Cosby's lawyers faced off in a California courtroom with Judy Huth, now in her 50s, who said Cosby assaulted her when she was 15 at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. Lawyers for Cosby, 78, argued her lawsuit should be dismissed for reasons related to the statute of limitations.

Cosby's attorneys have called Huth's account a fabrication.

More than 50 women have come forward over the past two years to publicly accuse Cosby of rape and other forms of sexual abuse. Most involve incidents said to have occurred decades ago, too far back to be criminally prosecuted or litigated in civil court.

At least nine other women are suing Cosby for defamation, charging they were smeared by his public assertions that their allegations were false.

The comedian has acknowledged marital infidelity but denied ever engaging in non-consensual sexual behaviour.

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