SANTA MONICA (CNS) – Joined by a new panelist, the jury deliberating in trial of a lawsuit filed by a Riverside County woman who claims comedian Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in the 1970s when she was a teenager met for a full day Monday without reaching a verdict.
The panel weighing Judy Huth’s lawsuit will be back in court Tuesday morning to resume deliberations. But the panel will hear brief arguments from attorneys over the meaning of legal terminology in one of the nine questions they are working to answer.
Late Friday — after roughly two full days of deliberations — the jury indicated it had reached verdicts on most of the questions, except for one relating possible punitive damages. Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan initially indicated he would read the partial verdicts, but there wasn’t enough time to do so before the courthouse had to close for the day.
One of the jurors, however, was due to leave for a prior commitment after Friday, and Karlan said he would stick to his earlier promise allowing the juror to be dismissed. That meant an alternate juror had to be brought in as a replacement, and the panel began its deliberations from scratch Monday morning.
During the nearly two-week trial, attorneys for Canyon Lake resident Huth, 64, have 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’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 more 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 in the lawsuit.