Judy Huth met Bill Cosby when she was a teenager, she says in court documents. It was the mid-1970s and Mr. Cosby had already made his breakthrough on the TV series ‘I Spy’ and become a movie star, but he was still years away from his massive success in ‘The Cosby Show’. Ms. Huth and a friend saw him on a movie set in a park in San Marino, California, and eventually met him in person, according to her court records.
Days later, she claims in the files, at his invitation she went to Mr. Cosby’s tennis club, where he gave her and her boyfriend alcohol before taking them to the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, where she accuses him of forcing her a sex act with him in a bedroom. Mr Cosby has described her account as a fabrication since the case was first filed in 2014.
This week, the task of deciding who is credible will fall to a jury of the Los Angeles Superior Court as Mr. Cosby on Ms. Huth’s allegations that he sexually assaulted her is slated to go ahead.
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, according to court papers. Since the beginning, she has said in court papers that she remembered Mr Cosby telling her and her boyfriend to claim they were both 19 when asked at the mansion.
The change of dates has made the team of Mr. Cosby to further dispute her account. Andrew Wyatt, a spokesman for Mr Cosby, said in a statement that Ms Huth has made “inconsistent statements since the commencement of this civil suit against Mr Cosby.” Ms. Huth has said that recently released information from Mr. Cosby had made her reconsider what year it happened.
The civil case, one of the last unresolved lawsuits against Mr. Cosby, was largely suspended as prosecutors in Pennsylvania pursued the criminal case that resulted in his 2018 conviction on charges of drugging and sexually abusing Andrea Constand. But the conviction was quashed and Mr. Cosby was released from prison last year when an appeals committee found that his right to a trial had been violated when prosecutors ignored an assurance from a previous prosecutor that Mr. Cosby would not be prosecuted.
Now that the criminal case has been quashed, the significance of Mrs Huth’s lawsuit has grown in the minds of some of the many women who have accused Mr Cosby of being a sexual predator.
“I think Judy’s trial may be our last stand for justice and we see our responsibility expressed in our stand against Bill Cosby,” said Victoria Valentino, who says Mr Cosby drugged and raped her in 1969 in Los Angeles. (Mr. Cosby has denied all allegations of sexual assault and said all meetings were by mutual consent.) She said she plans to attend part of the trial, which, subject to a last-minute settlement, is due this week. will begin jury selection and opening arguments expected on June 1.
Patricia Steuer, who accused Mr Cosby of drugging and assaulting her in 1978 and 1980, said she saw the civil trial in Huth as an opportunity to get a measure of justice. “There’s no other option right now,” she says. “It’s probably the only way available.”
Mr Cosby, now 84, has already faced multiple other civil cases brought against him by women, many of whom sued him for defamation after his legal team dismissed their allegations of sexual misconduct by him as fiction. Eleven civil cases have ended in settlements, with 10 of the settlements being agreed upon by Mr Cosby’s former insurance company over his objections, his spokesman said.
The lawsuit of Mrs. Huth threatens to become the first civil case in which Mr Cosby is charged with sexual assault to go to trial. In court papers, Ms. Huth says that in a bedroom in the Playboy Mansion, Mr. Cosby tried to put his hand down her pants and then forced her to caress him.
Ms. Huth filed her charges in December 2014, at a time when Mr. Cosby was facing charges from many women who said he drugged and sexually assaulted them, in incidents spanning several decades.
She also filed a police report, but the Los Angeles County Attorney’s Office declined to file a criminal charge because the statute of limitations had expired.
Her attorneys argued that the time limit for a civil claim had not expired, however, as it is being extended in California for adults who say they have been victims of sexual abuse as a minor, but have suppressed the experience. The deadline to file such a lawsuit is partly determined by when the person, as an adult, becomes aware of the serious psychological consequences of the abuse, her lawyers said.
In 2020, California law was amended to further extend the statute of limitations for sexual assault charges in civil court.
Ms Huth’s revised timeline, which states that Mr Cosby assaulted her when she was 16 instead of 15, should not affect her ability to sue, as the law considers a 16-year-old a minor Ms. Huth’s attorney, Gloria Allred, said.
Mr Cosby’s lawyers argued in legal documents that they felt taken aback by the sudden change in Ms Huth’s bill. They said their investigation was aimed at establishing the whereabouts of Mr. Cosby and Ms. Huth in 1974, and said they had prepared evidence to show the entertainer was not at the Playboy Mansion during the period she was in 1974. suggested.
The Playboy Mansion’s 1974 logbooks, according to Mr. Cosby’s lawyers, do not mention that Mrs. Huth or her boyfriend paid a visit.
At a hearing last week, the judge asked Playboy to produce records for 1975 and agreed that Ms Huth and the friend who accompanied her should sit for further statement before the trial begins.
Mr Cosby’s lawyers also questioned whether she remembered the alleged abuse only a short time before the charges were filed, as she said she had contacted a tabloid a decade earlier.
Mr Wyatt, Mr Cosby’s spokesman, said in the statement: “We are confident that the Playboy records along with Ms Huth changing her timeline of events from 1974 to 1975 at the eleventh hour will justify Mr Cosby .”
Mr Cosby has confessed to meeting Ms Huth at the Playboy Mansion, and Ms Huth has taken photos of them together which she says were taken there, according to court papers. But he has denied that she was underage when they met.
“While Defendant does not deny that he interacted with Plaintiff at the Playboy Mansion, as he did with other women and men who frequented the club,” his lawyers said in court documents, “Defendant vehemently denies that Plaintiff was a minor.”
Ms. Huth has said she changed her account’s timeline in part because she only recently realized, as a result of documents submitted by Mr. Cosby had pointed out that the shooting of the movie “Let’s Do It Again”, where she says she met, took place later than she remembered.
The trial is expected to last two weeks, and Ms. Huth, who is seeking damages from Mr. Cosby, is expected to testify, along with the friend who accompanied her to the Playboy Mansion. mr. Cosby has invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and will not testify. He will not attend the trial, Mr Wyatt said.
During the pre-trial hearings, Ms Huth had requested a trial in court, but the trial will take place before a 12-member jury, with at least 9 of the 12 votes needed for a conviction.
Mr. Cosby settled a civil suit that Ms. Constand filed against him in 2006 for $3.4 million. The other civil cases were settled under undisclosed terms by Mr. Cosby’s home policy, which covered “personal injury” in a range of circumstances, including lawsuits in which the policyholder was charged with defamation.
The other pending civil suit against Cosby was brought last year by Lili Bernard, an actor and visual artist, who accused him of drugging and sexually abusing her at an Atlantic City hotel in 1990, when she was 26. the lawsuit, which is still in its early stages, as New Jersey in 2019 revised its laws on the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases, extended the time limit for filing lawsuits, and created a special two-year period in which people cases regardless of how long ago the alleged attacks took place.