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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President Barack Obama waves as he walks with his daughter Malia Obama across the South Lawn on return to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, after their family vacation in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is slated Monday to finalize a set of new executive actions tightening the nation's gun laws, making his first order of business in the new year a clear signal the president in his final year doesn't intend to go quietly.

At a meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey and other top law enforcement officials Obama is expected to sign off on a package of proposals aimed at curbing gun violence and cracking down on unregulated gun sales.

At the top of the list is an effort to expand background checks on gun sales by forcing more sellers to register as federally licensed gun dealers. The changes would be aimed at some unregistered sellers who skirt the background check laws by selling at gun shows, online or informal settings.

Other moves being considered include improving reporting of lost and stolen weapons and beefing up inspections of licensed dealers, according to a person familiar with the plans who would not be named discussing proposals before they are finalized.

The package includes measures this White House has long considered but not completed, mindful of the legal fight sure to follow as well as the potential for political backlash for some fellow Democrats.
But after a steady string of mass shootings and with the clock on his tenure ticking down, Obama appears primed to push further than he has in the past.

"We definitely think there are things he can do," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which advocates for expanding background checks. Gross says his recent conversations with White House aides have left him hopeful.

"It's very clear that the White House is feeling emboldened," he said.

Obama announced the meeting with Lynch in his weekly address from his Hawaii holiday vacation. On Thursday, he'll take his argument to prime time, participating in a town hall discussion of gun violence on CNN. He's slated to make his case for changes in his State of the Union address on Jan. 12.

The high-profile rollout reflects a White House continuing to look for ways to wrap up unfinished business, despite an uncooperative Congress.

After all but ignoring the issue in his first term, Obama changed course after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012. Nevertheless, the president failed to push a package of gun measures through Congress, including one expanding background checks.

At the same time, Obama took nearly two dozen executive actions to tighten gun laws, but left a major expansion of background checks out of the mix.

But after the shooting at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon in October, a weary and angry Obama ordered his staff to redouble the effort to look for ways to work around Congress.

Under current law, federally licensed firearms dealers are required to seek background checks on potential firearm purchasers. But advocacy groups say many sellers are currently exempt from having to register, increasing the chance of sales to customers prohibited by law from purchasing a gun.

The administration is expected to reclassify some of those dealers using a mix of criteria, such as the number and frequency of guns sold, whether sellers profit off sales, whether they advertise, rent space or tables at gun shows and pay taxes. White House officials have not yet disclosed the details of the proposal.

Obama's plans immediately set off a political debate on the presidential campaign trail, both over the policy and whether the president has the authority to make it.

Democrat Hillary Clinton, who has already proposed an executive action to close the gun show loophole, cheered Obama's plans.

"I am absolutely convinced we can have gun safety measures consistent with the Constitution," she said during a presidential campaign event in Concord, New Hampshire. "I will take on that fight. I'm very hopeful and excited that the president is going to take some action with executive action in the next week or two ... but if it's a Republican who walks into the White House within the first day, the executive orders will be reversed."

Rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, told ABC's "This Week" he wished Congress could find consensus but added the move was the "right thing to do."

Republicans candidates rejected the proposals, including those who have backed some gun control measures in the past.

"This president is a petulant child," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday on "Fox News Sunday." ''The fact is if he wants to make changes to these laws, go to Congress and convince the Congress that they're necessary. But this is going to be another illegal executive action which I'm sure will be rejected by the courts."

"I don't like changing anything," Donald Trump said on CBS' "Face the Nation." ''Right now, they have plenty of rules and regulations."

___
Associated Press writer Lisa Lerer contributed to this report.

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