The impact of sexual assault on memory was at the center of Thursday’s civil trial in Los Angeles, where Bill Cosby has been charged by a woman, Judy Huth, who says he sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager some 47 years ago. .
Barbara E. Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist and expert on sexual assault and rape, said traumatic memories of assault are “highly encoded” deep in the brain and “less likely to erode over time.”
Victims of such events can remember the details of their trauma many years, even decades later, she testified.
“Traumatic memories are highly encoded and therefore less likely to forget,” said Dr. ziv.
dr. Ziv was called to testify by Mrs. Huth’s lawyers, who say she was sexually assaulted by Mr. Cosby at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 1975, when she was 16. Ms Huth did not come forward to make a complaint. lawsuit until 2014, when, she says in her lawsuit, she realized the emotional damage she had suffered later in life was a result of what she described as the assault.
But the accuracy of her memory and the passage of time before meeting Mr. Cosby publicly accused were the key points for his defense team in discrediting Mrs. Huth’s account.
dr. Ziv said in court that it can take a long time for a person to understand what happened during a sexual assault, and after that it is common for victims not to report because they are ashamed. “Most people just want to put it behind them,” said Dr. ziv.
The cases of sexual assault against Bill Cosby
After Bill Cosby’s 2018 criminal conviction for assault was overturned, the first civil case in which he is charged with sexual misconduct has been tried.
Mr Cosby has denied sexually assaulting Ms Huth, or any of the other women who have come forward in recent years to accuse him of sexual misconduct.
Ms Huth’s lawsuit, filed in 2014, is one of the last unresolved lawsuits against Mr Cosby. It was largely postponed as Pennsylvania prosecutors charged him with sexual assault on Andrea Constand. Cosby’s 2018 conviction in that case was overturned by an appeals court last year under a fair trial.
Ms. Huth in her suit says she was attacked in 1975, days after she and a friend met Mr. Cosby on a movie set in a park in San Marino, California, where he was shooting a movie.
Days after the first meeting, the two women went to his tennis club at Mr. Cosby’s invitation, Mrs. Huth’s lawyers said, drank alcohol he offered and followed him in their car to the Playboy Mansion. Once there, Mrs. Huth said, Mr. Cosby forced her to perform a sexual act with him in a bedroom.
Disputing Ms Huth’s account, Mr Cosby’s lawyers have disputed her recollection of their meeting, suggesting it had happened years later when she said it had happened, when she was no longer a minor. In their opening statement, his lawyers attempted to discredit the account by pointing out that, according to their own statements, the women stayed at the Playboy Mansion for hours after allegedly meeting Mr. Cosby, swimming in the pool, mingling with famous actors, and watch a movie.
The trial is expected to last seven to 10 days and will be held at the Santa Monica branch of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Cosby, 84, is not scheduled to testify and did not attend the opening days of the testimony, but his testimony is expected to be played in court. Ms. Huth, 64, who attended, plans to answer to the jury.
On Thursday, Mrs. Huth’s lawyers began presenting evidence of a woman they say was 14 when Mr. Cosby suddenly tried to kiss her in his trailer on a different set of the same movie as the one he was filming. when he met Mrs Huth. † But the testimony ended before the woman, Kimberly Burr, could give much of her story. She will be back on the program on Friday.
The friend who accompanied Mrs. Huth to the Playboy Mansion, Donna Samuelson, has already testified and told the court that Mrs. Huth was distraught after the alleged encounter with Mr. Cosby. Mrs. Samuelson said Mrs. Huth had wanted to leave, but had persuaded her friend to stay for several hours to calm down. She said they had agreed to keep the meeting a secret because Ms Huth felt ashamed and humiliated.
Mrs. Huth’s memory of when the meeting took place has changed. She initially said it happened in 1974, when she was 15. But more recently, she came to the conclusion that it was in 1975, when she was 16.
She reported her allegation to the police in 2014, but prosecutors refused to file criminal charges because the statute of limitations had expired.
Ms. Huth was able to sue because California law allows in some cases the statute of limitations to be extended for people who say they have only recently recognized as adults the harm caused by a suppressed incident of sexual abuse they experienced as children. .
Her lawyers have said she came forward in 2014 after her son turned 15 and, like many other women, reported similar allegations of sexual abuse by Mr Cosby.
Cosby has had to deal with multiple other civil cases brought against him by women in the past, many of whom sued him for defamation after his legal team dismissed their allegations of sexual misconduct as fiction.
Eleven civil cases ended in settlements, 10 of which were cleared by Mr Cosby’s former insurance company over his objections, his spokesman said.
Mr. Cosby also settled a civil suit that Ms. Constand filed against him in 2006 for $3.4 million.