A California jury has found that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted Judy Huth at the Playboy Mansion in 1975 when she was a teenager. Huth, now 64, was awarded $500,000 after four bizarre days of deliberations. Although Cosby’s been accused of sexual misconduct by 60 women, this was the first civil case to reach trial. Cosby, who denies a sexual encounter occurred, did not attend the trial in Santa Monica.
According to Tuesday’s verdict, jurors believe Cosby intentionally caused harmful sexual contact, that he reasonably believed Huth was under 18, and that the actor was driven by unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in a minor, according to the Associated Press. It’s a big setback for the once beloved comedian, who was freed from prison last year.
Jurors began deliberating on Thursday. On Friday, a note was sent to the judge about a “personality issue” between two of the jurors that was making deliberations difficult. By the end of the day, jurors had answered eight of nine questions on their verdict form, but were stuck on whether Cosby acted with “malice, oppression or fraud,” which could trigger punitive damages. One of the 12 jurors was then excused due to a prior commitment the judge approved. An alternate juror took the person’s place place and the group had to start from scratch on Monday. The jury remained stuck on the same question.
Huth, who was 16 at the time of the incident, tested that Cosby molested her inside a bedroom and forced her to perform a sex act on him. She said she met the entertainer when he was filming a scene for the movie Let’s Do It Again. He invited her and a friend to the Playboy Mansion. Cosby was a regular there as he was best friends with Hugh Hefner, who’s had his own #MeToo moment this past year. Cosby’s alleged predatory behavior at the mansion was featured in Secrets of Playboy.
According to Huth, she “was scared” when a then-37-year-old Cosby got her into a bedroom at the mansion.
“He tried to lean me back. He was leaning me back, and then he tried to come at me and kiss me. Then he put his hands underneath my belly button where my high pants are, and he tried to put his hands down my pants,” she tested, explaining she was “shocked.”
“I was freaking out and told him I was on my period,” she said, adding that it was a lie. Huth tested that Cosby pulled down his pants and forced her hand on his penis.
“Definitely forcefully. It was not what I wanted, at all. I had my eyes closed at that time. I was freaking out,” she sobbed to the jury.
Cosby’s lawyers called Huth’s story “a complete and utter fabrication” and questioned why she stayed at the mansion for hours after the alleged assault. They also took a shot at her credibility as Huth initially got the year of the attack wrong.
It’s been almost one year to the day since the man formerly hailed as America’s Dad was freed from prison when his sexual assault conviction was overturned. In 2018, he was found guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated the finding the prosecutor who brought the case was bound by his predecessor’s agreement not to charge the actor. Cosby has maintained his innocence and denies sexually assaulting any woman.