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Members of the three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit of Appeals reeled off a list of "the toothpaste's out of the tube"-type metaphors to suggest that any damage to Cosby's reputation from the release of the testimony has already been done.
Cosby's attorneys hope a ruling in their favor could help them keep the documents from being used in the criminal case against him in Pennsylvania and in the many lawsuits filed around the country by women who accuse him of sexual assault or defamation.
But the judges questioned that strategy, too.
The other courts "don't have to necessarily follow us. We can't control them," Circuit Judge Thomas L. Ambro said.
Cosby gave the testimony in 2005 as part of a lawsuit brought against him by Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee who said he drugged and molested her at his home. She later settled for an undisclosed sum, and sensitive documents in the file remained sealed.
In the nearly 1,000-page deposition, the comic known as "America's Dad" admitted to several extramarital affairs and said he obtained quaaludes to give to women he hoped to seduce.
The documents were released last year on a request by The Associated Press. U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno found the public had a right to Cosby's testimony because of his role as a self-appointed "public moralist" and because he had denied accusations he drugged and molested women.
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