The federal judge in Springfield presiding over a high-profile lawsuit pending against disgraced comedian Bill Cosby could set a trial date within the next six months, records show.
Seven women named as plaintiffs in the suit, filed in US District Court in Springfield, allege Cosby sexually assaulted them and later defamed them as liars when they went public with their claims. Cosby, 81, has denied the allegations.
On Tuesday, Judge Mark G. Mastroianni approved a request from plaintiffs’ attorneys to file a status update on the case under seal.
“The parties are directed to file another status report by April 5, 2019,” said a judicial order filed on the public docket. “At that time the court anticipates, unless exceptional circumstances are demonstrated, lifting the stay of discovery, establishing an accelerated discovery schedule, and scheduling a trial within six months.”
Cosby, once a beloved entertainer dubbed “America’s Dad,” is currently serving a three- to 10-year prison sentence in Pennsylvania for sexually assaulting a woman in that state in 2004.
Dozens of women have come forward in recent years to accuse Cosby of drugging, raping, and sexually assaulting them during encounters spanning decades. He has steadfastly denied wrongdoing.
On Wednesday, a statement attributed to Cosby in which he sent out birthday wishes to his wife, Camille Cosby, appeared on his official Twitter and Instagram accounts.
“Happy 75th Birthday to my beautiful bride, Camille,” the statement said. “Dear, you’re a wonderful mother, loving wife, but most importantly, you’re the strength of this family. Please celebrate your day!”
The message concluded with several hashtags including #CamilleOCosby #Happy75thBirthday #BillCosby #FarFromFinished #FreeBillCosby.