05 25 2016
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  • On Tuesday, a judge ordered the 78-year-old Cosby to stand trial on sexual assault charges 
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- This year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to be too broke to file for bankruptcy.

The average cost to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, the most common form of consumer bankruptcy, is more than $1,500, according to recent research submitted to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

As a result, anywhere between 200,000 and one million consumers are estimated to be unable to afford that steep cost this year.

The research, conducted by a group of professors from Columbia University, the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis, examined how bankruptcy filings spiked after people received their tax rebates in previous years. They estimate that another 200,000 consumers, who would otherwise not have enough money to file, will use their tax refunds to pay for bankruptcy this year.

"For lots of people, bankruptcy has been taken off the table as an option because of the severe fees involved," said Jialan Wang, co-author of the report.

Among those fees is a charge of about $300 just for filing the paperwork with the federal court, while the rest typically goes to bankruptcy lawyers, said Wang.

And there are other expenses on top of that, including fees for mandatory pre-bankruptcy credit counseling and a pre-discharge debtor education course. These average about $85 altogether, according to a recent study sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute.

That means many of the Americans who have seen their debt snowball out of control due to events like job loss, foreclosure or a medical emergency during the economic downturn are now left without their last financial lifeline, she said.

"It becomes harder and harder to pay off the debt as interest payments get higher, so your debt grows larger and larger," she said.

The cost of filing for bankruptcy has risen in recent years as a result of the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which aimed to reduce the number of bankruptcies taking place by adding more requirements to the filing process -- including additional paperwork and the credit counseling and debtor education.

While the bankruptcy rate has fallen slightly since the law took effect -- from a rate of 1.4% in 2004 to 1.3% last year -- the average income of bankruptcy filers has increased, the NBER study found. The findings indicate that the new requirements are pricing out many of the consumers who are least able to afford the fees, said Wang.

"It ends up being the relatively better off, or middle-class consumers who can actually afford to file, and the people with lower incomes can't afford to file," said Wang.

Billy Brewer, president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, said bankruptcy attorneys have no choice but to charge such high fees.

"When clients come in and I tell them the fee, they look at me like I have two heads, and say: What part of 'I'm filing for bankruptcy don't you understand?' But we can't afford to do it for free," said Brewer, who charges an average fee of $1,500. "Congress decided to make the process much more difficult and there's much more paperwork involved, so attorneys are spending double the time they used to just to help someone file."

Those who can't afford the fees should still try to find a pro bono lawyer willing to provide legal services for free, said Wang. However, only a small fraction of people are actually able to get this kind of help.

And think twice before you decide to go it alone, said Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com.

"It's too complicated now, and too much of a minefield. Make a mistake and your case is dismissed," she said. "A dismissed bankruptcy hurts your credit just as badly as one you complete. So you have all the downside without the fresh start."

She also warns against low-cost document preparation services claiming to help consumers fill out necessary documents. It's easy for consumers to think they're getting sound legal advice even though the preparers aren't lawyers, she said.

Among the various types of bankruptcy protection, Chapter 7 is the most common. Chapter 7 enables you to wipe out some or all of your debt in the shortest amount of time, said Detweiler. Bankruptcy doesn't relieve you of certain debts, however, like student loans or alimony payments.

If you're filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can request to have the $300 court fee waived. The judge will typically grant a waiver if your income is less than 150% of the poverty line and you can prove that you are unable to pay the fee in full or in installments.

However, it's the attorney fees that are the biggest expense.

If you have been making some payments on your debts, an attorney may advise you to stop paying creditors, which can free up the money you need to pay the attorney's fees.

But if you haven't had enough money to make any payments to creditors, Detweiler recommends asking friends or family members for help. If that doesn't work, you could sell some of your belongings or get a second job, as long as your attorney says that it wouldn't affect your ability to receive bankruptcy protection.

Brewer, of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, said sometimes it's just a matter of rearranging priorities.

"If the need is crucial enough, consumers usually find a way to come up with the money," he said.

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