Lawyers Seek Anonymity for Cosby Witnesses

Attorneys for nine women who have agreed to testify against entertainer Bill Cosby (search) in a sexual assault (search) lawsuit asked a judge Wednesday to let them take the stand anonymously.

"I urge the court not to say to these women that the price of coming forward is to be immediately swept into the publicity maelstrom," said Ralph Jacobs, a lawyer for one of the women.

U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno (search) did not say when he would issue a ruling.

Cosby's lawyers did not object outright to allowing the "Jane Doe witnesses" but expressed concern that such privacy could be abused.

Cosby lawyer Patrick O'Connor worried that the women might "speak to the press under the cloak of anonymity" about the allegations against Cosby. The five lawyers representing the women assured the judge that they and their clients would not do that.

The women have agreed to testify in a civil suit filed by a former Temple University employee. She alleged Cosby drugged and then fondled her; all of the women allege similar behavior by the entertainer.

The plaintiff has been identified in court documents, but it is the policy of The Associated Press not to publish names of alleged sexual assault victims without their consent.

The woman, who now lives in her native Ontario, Canada, filed her suit against Cosby in March.

She went to Canadian authorities on Jan. 13 and alleged that about a year earlier, Cosby gave her three blue pills that rendered her semiconscious, and then molested her at his mansion in a Philadelphia suburb. Local prosecutors declined to file charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Attorneys for Cosby, 67, have said he considered himself a friend and mentor to the woman. He denied the assault allegation but acknowledged giving her over-the-counter medication after she complained that she was stressed and having trouble sleeping.