Jury Reaches Verdict in Sex Abuse Civil Suit vs. Bill Cosby

City News Service

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – After roughly four days of deliberations that
included a series of questions, replacement of a juror and a near deadlock on
at least one question it was struggling to answer, a Santa Monica jury reached
a verdict today in the trial of a Riverside County woman’s lawsuit alleging
comedian Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in the 1970s
when she was a teen.

The verdict in the trial of Judy Huth’s lawsuit is expected to be read
at about 3:30 p.m.

The jury began deliberating last Thursday, and announced late Friday
it had reached a verdict on all but one issue — relating to the issue of
punitive damages against Cosby. But before Superior court Judge Craig Karlan
could even read a partial verdict in the trial, he instead had to dismiss the
jury for the weekend because of a hard closure time for the Santa Monica
Courthouse.

As a result, the jury had to come back Monday and begin its
deliberations from scratch with one alternate member, because Karlan had
earlier agreed to allow one juror to be dismissed after Friday due to a prior
commitment.

With the alternate juror in place, the jury began deliberating again,
failing to reach a verdict on Monday, then hearing brief arguments from
attorneys Tuesday morning on legal issues apparently relating to the same
problematic question regarding the issue of punitive damages.

The jury’s focus on that issue appeared to indicate the panel was
leaning toward finding Cosby culpable of at least some level of wrongdoing. On
Tuesday afternoon, the jury indicated it was having trouble reaching a verdict
on the punitive damages question, but after being sent back for further
discussions, it announced a short time later that it had reached a decision.

During the nearly two-week trial, attorneys for Canyon Lake resident
Huth, 64, accused Cosby — who is 84 and legally blind — of assaulting her in
a game room at the mansion in 1975, when she was 16 years old. Attorneys said
Cosby escorted Huth and her then-17-year-old friend, Donna Samuelson, to the
mansion after he met them while in the area to film the movie “Let’s Do It
Again” with Jimmie Walker and Sidney Poitier.

The case is the first sex-abuse civil trial against Cosby to reach a
jury. Cosby did not attend any of the Santa Monica trial.

Cosby’s attorneys have staunchly denied any wrongdoing by the
comedian, and worked to poke holes in Huth’s version of events. They noted in
particular that Huth and Samuelson spent as many as 12 hours at the Playboy
Mansion after the alleged assault. They also argued that Huth originally
claimed the attack happened in 1974 when she was 15, then changed her story to
say it occurred a year later.

Huth eventually reported her allegations against Cosby to the Los
Angeles Police Department, but the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s
Office declined to file criminal charges because the statute of limitations had
passed.

Huth was able to bring the civil suit under a California law allowing
adults who say they were victims of sexual abuse as minors, but repressed what
happened to them for years, to pursue such cases.

Cosby was previously convicted in a retrial in Pennsylvania of
allegations that he drugged and molested Temple University employee Andrea
Constand. He was sentenced in 2018 to 10 years in prison, but that state’s
Supreme Court overturned the conviction last June after finding that Cosby had
obtained a nonprosecution agreement from a prior prosecutor.

The U.S. Supreme Court in March rejected a request from Pennsylvania
prosecutors to review the state Supreme Court decision. The criminal case had
put the Huth civil case on hold.

Huth contends she, Samuelson and Cosby went to a game room at the
Playboy Mansion that had an adjoining bedroom. Samuelson even snapped a photo
of Huth and Cosby together in the room, and the image was shown repeatedly to
jurors during the trial.

According to Huth, while she was alone with Cosby, the comedian began
kissing her and tried to put his hands down her pants. He then allegedly
lowered his own pants and forced her to perform a sex act on him.

Her attorney, Nathan Goldberg, said Huth repressed what happened for
years, until other women began speaking out against Cosby in 2014. She filed
her lawsuit against Cosby in December 2014.

Cosby attorney Jennifer Bonjean raised questions about the
allegations, suggesting the emotional trauma Huth claims to have suffered
stemmed from other events in her life. She said the sudden change in the date
of the alleged attack was also evidence of “fabrication.”

During the trial, a videotaped deposition of Cosby taken in 2015 was
played for the jury. In that testimony, Cosby denied assaulting Huth, said he
didn’t recall meeting her and denied that he would ever engage in sexual
activity with an underage girl.

Countering the defense argument that Huth and Samuelson remained at
the mansion after the alleged attack, Goldberg insisted Huth was crying after
the assault and wanted to leave, but Samuelson convinced her to stay,
suggesting she would feel better after taking a swim. Samuelson testified that
Huth was crying and was upset, but she did not want to call the police.

Huth is seeking unspecified damages.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

CNS-06-21-2022 15:00

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