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Bill Cosby's wife questioned by lawyer for accusers

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Bill Cosby's wife, an enigmatic figure who has stood by her husband despite the dozens of sexual assault allegations against him, is slated to answer questions under oath Monday in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by seven accusers.

Camille Cosby was being questioned by a lawyer for the women at the Springfield Marriott despite futile attempts by the couple to get the deposition postponed. It is believed to be the first deposition Camille Cosby has given since dozens of women went public with allegations of sexual misconduct against her husband.

Lawyers for the Cosbys have argued that she does not have any information on the accuracy of the women's claims and that her conversations with her husband are confidential under the Massachusetts marital disqualification rule. They attempted to quash the deposition.

CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman says the state's marital disqualification rule means that "if you have a conversation, husband and wife, anything you say during the course of that marriage privately is excluded from any testimony, including a deposition."

Still, Klieman says Camille Cosby can answer questions about her anything she saw or heard, other than conversations with her husband.

Security guards and hotel staff tried to keep reporters from a conference room at the hotel where Camille Cosby was set to be deposed. The room where the deposition was scheduled to take place was cordoned off with a no-entry sign.

A judge had ruled Friday that Camille Cosby's deposition must proceed. However, defense lawyers filed an emergency motion late Saturday requesting it be delayed, saying the 71-year-old "has had no involvement with the facts or allegations underlying this case." They argued her public testimony would create "an unnecessary media circus and personal security threat that serves no purpose other than to harass and embarrass her."

In a ruling late Sunday, a judge said Monday's deposition can take place.

The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, about an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit was filed. The couple has been married for 52 years and has five children, one of them deceased.

A lawyer for the women argued that because Camille Cosby has been the TV star's wife and business manager, she could have useful information.

The plaintiffs in the Massachusetts defamation case are among about 50 who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct.

In December, Cosby, 78, was charged by Pennsylvania prosecutors with drugging and sexually assaulting a former Temple University employee at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Cosby has pleaded not guilty. This month, a judge denied a motion by Cosby's lawyers to dismiss the charges. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 8.

Cosby's lawyers have said in court papers that the deposition is "nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to pressure (the) defendant in the face of subjecting his wife to the shame and embarrassment of responding to questions about his alleged infidelities and sexual misconduct."