Jurors in a civil trial on Tuesday found that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy Mansion in 1975. The Los Angeles County jury returned the verdict in favor of Judy Huth, now 64. , and awarded him $500,000. She said the fact that jurors believed her story meant more than the sum of money or the fact that she did not win punitive damages.
“It’s been torture,” Huth said of the seven-year legal fight. “To be trashed, you know, thrown under the bus and flipped over. This, for me, is a great victory.”
Jurors found that Cosby intentionally caused harmful sexual contact with Huth, that he reasonably believed she was under the age of 18, and that his conduct was prompted 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 the father of America. It comes nearly a year after he had his criminal sexual assault conviction overturned in Pennsylvania and was 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 video clips of statements from 2015 were shown to the jury, in which he denied any sexual contact with Huth. She continues to deny the allegation through her attorney and publicist.
Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, said they would appeal the verdict, stating that the defense won because Huth did not win punitive damages.
Jurors had already reached conclusions on nearly all the questions on their verdict form, including whether Cosby abused Huth and whether he deserved compensation, after two days of deliberations on Friday. But the jury foreman was unable to serve any longer because of a personal commitment, and the panel had to start deliberating from scratch with a substitute juror on Monday.
Cosby’s attorneys agreed that Cosby met Huth and her high school friend at a Southern California movie in April 1975, then 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 was highlighted at trial.
Huth filed her lawsuit in 2014, saying her son turned 15, the age she initially remembered being when he went to the mansion, and a wave of other women accusing Cosby of similar acts left her re-traumatized by what she had been through. when I was a teenager. .
Huth’s attorney, Nathan Goldberg, told the jury of nine women and three men during closing arguments Wednesday that “my client deserves to hold Mr. Cosby accountable for what he did.”
“Each of you knows in your heart that Mr. Cosby sexually assaulted Ms. Huth,” Goldberg said.
At least nine of 12 jurors agreed, giving Huth victory in a lawsuit that took nearly eight years and overcame many hurdles just to get to trial.
During their testimony, Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, constantly questioned Huth and Samuelson about errors in the details of their stories and a similarity in the accounts that the attorney said represented coordination between the two women.
This included the women saying in pre-trial statements and police interviews that Samuelson had played Donkey Kong that day, a game that was not released until six years later.
Bonjean did a lot of this, in what both sides called the “Donkey Kong defense.”
Goldberg asked the jurors to look beyond the small errors in detail that he said were inevitable in stories that were 45 years old, and focus on the main issues behind the allegations. He pointed out to jurors that Samuelson said “games like Donkey Kong” when he first mentioned it in his deposition.
Cosby’s attorney began her closing arguments by saying, “It’s like Donkey Kong,” and ended by declaring, “Game over.”
Huth’s attorney reacted with outrage during his rebuttal.
“This is about justice!” she shouted her, hitting the podium. “We don’t need the endgame! We need justice!”
Outside the courthouse, a group of four women who said they represent dozens of Cosby’s sexual assault victims celebrated the verdict.
Chelan Lasha, who testified against Cosby in the Pennsylvania case, was in tears. She said he drugged and assaulted her in Elvis Presley’s suite at the Las Vegas Hilton when she was 17.
“He’s a boogeyman, he’s a sexual predator, he’s a deviant,” Lasha said. He is hideous. It is one more victory. He came here to support Judy. I’m proud of Judy. I’m happy with the result.”