SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — A civil trial jury found Tuesday that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl at the playboy mansion 1975
The Los Angeles County Jury returned a verdict in favor of Judy Huth, now 64, and awarded her $500,000.
The jury found that Cosby intentionally caused harmful sexual contact with Huth, that he reasonably believed she was under 18, and that his behavior was driven by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in a minor.
The jury’s decision is a major legal defeat for the 84-year-old entertainer, once hailed as America’s father. It comes almost a year after his conviction for sexual assault in Pennsylvania was thrown out and released from prison. Huth’s lawsuit was one of the last remaining legal claims against him after his insurer settled many others against his will.
Cosby did not attend the trial or testify in person, but brief clips from the 2015 video interrogation were played to the jury showing he denied any sexual contact with Huth. He continues to deny the allegation through his attorney and publicist.
The jury had already reached conclusions on nearly every issue on her sentencing form, including whether Cosby abused Huth and whether she deserved damages, after two days of deliberations Friday. But the jury chairman was unable to continue to serve due to a personal commitment, and the panel had to start over on Monday with a replacement juror.
Cosby’s attorneys agreed that Cosby met Huth and her high school sweetheart on a film set in Southern California in April 1975 and took them to the Playboy Mansion a few days later.
Huth’s friend Donna Samuelson, a key witness, took photos at Huth and Cosby’s mansion, which played a large role in the trial.
Huth testified that in a bedroom next to a playroom where the three had been hanging out, Cosby tried to put his hand down her pants, then exposed himself and forced her into a sexual act.
Huth filed her lawsuit in 2014, saying her son turned 15 — the age she originally remembered walking into the mansion — and brought in a wave of other women who have accused Cosby of similar acts new trauma about what she went through as a teenager.
Huth’s attorney, Nathan Goldberg, told the jury of nine women and three men during Wednesday’s closing arguments that “my client deserves that Mr. Cosby be held accountable for what he has done.”
“Each of you know in your heart that Mr. Cosby sexually assaulted Miss Huth,” Goldberg said.
A majority of the jury apparently agreed, giving Huth a victory in a trial that lasted eight years and overcame many hurdles just to get to trial.
During testimony, Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, consistently challenged Huth and Samuelson over errors of detail in their stories and a similarity in the reports, which the attorney said portrayed coordination between the two women.
These included the women who said in pre-trial statements and police interviews that Samuelson played Donkey Kong that day, a game not released until six years later.
Bonjean made much of what both sides dubbed the “Donkey Kong Defense.”
Goldberg asked the jury to look past the small flaws in detail, which he said were inevitable in stories dating back 45 years, and to focus on the main issues behind the allegations. He pointed out to the jury that Samuelson said “play like Donkey Kong” when she first mentioned it in her testimony.
Cosby’s attorney began her closing arguments by saying, “It’s going like Donkey Kong,” and ended by declaring, “Game Over.”
Huth’s lawyer was outraged at his refutation.
“This is about justice!” he shouted, pounding the podium. “We don’t need a game over! We need justice!”
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly, as Huth did.
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