(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) — Jurors at a civil trial found Tuesday that Bill Cosby sexually abused a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy Mansion in 1975.
Judy Huth (now 64) was convicted by the Los Angeles County jury and she received $500,000. She said the fact that jurors believed her story meant more than the sum of money or the fact that she didn’t win punitive damages.
“It’s been torture,” Huth said of the seven-year legal fight. “To be ripped apart, you know, thrown under the bus and backed over. This, to me, is such a big victory.”
Jurors found Cosby deliberately caused Huth to have harmful sexual contact. He also believed Huth was younger than 18. His conduct was motivated unnaturally or abnormally by a sexual interest in minors.
The jurors’ decision is a major legal defeat for the 84-year-old entertainer once hailed as America’s dad. This comes almost one year since his Pennsylvania sexual assault conviction was overturned and he 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 didn’t attend the trial, nor did he testify at person. Jurors were shown clips of his 2015 video testimony, where he denied ever having sex with Huth. Through his lawyer and publicist, he continues to refute the allegations.
Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said they would appeal the verdict and he claimed the defense won because Huth didn’t win punitive damages.
After two days of debates on Friday, jurors reached a consensus on almost every question in their verdict forms, including the questions about whether Cosby had abused Huth or whether she deserved damages. The jury foreperson was unable to serve any further due to a personal commitment. Therefore, the panel began deliberations on Monday with an alternate juror.
Cosby’s attorneys agreed that Cosby met Huth and her high school friend on a Southern California film set in April of 1975, then took them to the Playboy Mansion a few days later.
Huth’s friend Donna Samuelson, a key witness, took photos at the mansion of Huth and Cosby, which loomed large at the trial.
Huth said that Cosby had tried to touch Huth in her bedroom, which was adjacent to the room they were playing. He then exposed his nakedness and made Huth perform a sex act.
Huth filed her lawsuit in 2014, saying that her son turning 15 — the age she initially remembered being when she went to the mansion — and a wave of other women accusing Cosby of similar acts brought fresh trauma over what she had been through as 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 have Mr. Cosby held accountable for what he did.”
“Each of you knows in your heart that Mr. Cosby sexually assaulted Miss Huth,” Goldberg said.
Huth won the case with at least 9 of 12 jurors agreeing, a win that was a result of a lawsuit that went on for nearly 8 years. The trial had many obstacles and Huth’s victory came after all these years.
Jennifer Bonjean, a Cosby lawyer, repeatedly challenged Huth, Samuelson, over details in their stories and similarities in the accounts, which the lawyer claimed represented coordination between these two women.
These included women claiming in interviews and pre-trial depositions that Samuelson played Donkey Kong on that day. This game was not released until six decades later.
Bonjean made much of this, in what both sides came to call the “Donkey Kong defense.”
Goldberg asked jurors not to dwell on small details that are common in 45-year-old stories and instead focus on the main issues. He pointed out to jurors that Samuelson said “games like Donkey Kong” when she first mentioned it in her deposition.
The Cosby lawyer began her closing arguments by saying, “It’s on like Donkey Kong,” and finished by declaring, “game over.”
Huth’s attorney reacted with outrage during his rebuttal.
“This is about justice!” he shouted, pounding on the podium. “We don’t need game over! We need justice!”
Unless they are willing to come out publicly like Huth, the Associated Press doesn’t normally identify people who claim they were sexually abused.
Outside court, a group of four women who said they represented dozens of Cosby’s sexual abuse victims celebrated the verdict.
Chelan Lasha was overcome with emotion when she testified in support of Cosby during the Pennsylvania trial. When she was 17, Chelan Lasha testified that he drugged her and attacked her at the Las Vegas Hilton’s Elvis Presley Suite.
“He’s a boogey man, he’s a sexual predator, he’s a deviant,” Lasha said. “He’s horrible. It’s one more victory. Judy, I am proud to be here. I’m proud of Judy. I’m glad for the outcome.”
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