As Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial enters second week, Judy Huth takes the stand
Judy Huth, a California resident who has accused Bill Cosby of sexually abusing her when she was a teenager, took the stand Tuesday for the second day of her testimony in her civil case against the disgraced comedian.
The trial, which comes nearly a year after Cosby, 84, was released from prison after his conviction in a separate case was overturned, is underway in Santa Monica.
Huth, a Riverside County resident, has said she met Cosby around 1975 while he was filming a movie in San Marino. Huth alleged Cosby invited her and a friend to a tennis club, where he gave them drinks, before taking them to the Playboy Mansion and telling them to say they were 19 if anyone asked.
Fighting back tears as she recalled the alleged assault in 1975, Huth said Tuesday that Cosby tried to put his hands down her pants. She lied and said she was on her period to get him to stop. Instead, she said he forced her hand onto his erect penis, masturbating himself until he climaxed.
“I had my eyes closed at that point,” Huth, 64, said in court. “I was freaking out.”
Bill Cosby, 84, will stand trial starting June 1 after Judy Huth accused him of sexual assault when she was a teenager in the ‘70s. Catch up on the case.
Huth said that in the decades after the alleged attack, she entered a dark period of isolation and depression, cycling between abusive relationships that left her further scarred.
She also detailed a grim car accident in which she was a passenger, which took the lives of five people and left her with a back injury. Although she wasn’t responsible for the wreck, she said she endured survivor’s guilt for several years while rehabbing her injury (which she said still causes her pain).
Still, she said her mind always went back to the alleged attack by Cosby, especially once other women began accusing him of similar behavior.
Nearly eight years after Judy Huth accused Bill Cosby of assaulting her when she was a teenager in the 1970s, her civil trial against him began Wednesday.
“It’s like a movie that just kept going and going, and I couldn’t change the channel,” she said.
The most vivid responses came not from the smattering of onlookers in the courtroom, but from Cosby’s primary lawyer. Jennifer Bonjean frequently turned away from Huth to make side comments to her team, shaking her head as Huth struggled to remember details.
She also objected to a number of questions from Huth’s attorney, Nathan Goldberg, which she felt were leading, many of which Judge Craig D. Karlan sustained.
Ahead of cross-examination from Bonjean, Goldberg tried to dispel the defense’s theory that Huth was lying about the attack. Huth had previously said the incident happened in 1974 when she was 15, but then changed her story to say it happened in 1975 when she was 16.
Asked what made her change her story, Huth said she saw pictures of Cosby with a beard in 1975, which he didn’t have the year before. She also said she had discovered the date of a National Enquirer issue, which featured on the cover the actor Peter Lawford, whom she had seen at the dinner table the night of the alleged incident.
“What show was Peter on?” Judge Karlan jokingly asked the room, before telling the jury to raise their hands if they’d never heard of him. Over half the hands went up, drawing muted laughter from the audience.
Bonjean later launched into a blistering cross-examination of Huth, aiming to pinpoint inconsistencies in her story.
After noting the 40-year gap between the alleged assault and Huth’s filing, she honed in on Huth amending the year of her allegation from 1974 to 1975. Bonjean questioned why a number of life milestones did not remind her of when the alleged assault occurred, specifically Huth’s relationship status and when she befriended Donna Samuelson, the friend with whom she went to the Playboy Mansion the day of the alleged attack.
Huth’s demeanor remained stoic, plainly saying some variation of “I was inaccurate” in response to each question.
Near the end of the day, Bonjean pointed out a discrepancy where photos of the game room Huth had referenced showed a different layout than what Huth had described. On this and other challenges, Huth remained terse, meeting many of Bonjean’s questions with “no” or “I don’t remember.”
Bill Cosby was released from prison after the Pennsylvania high court ruled the sex assault case against him violated an earlier deal with prosecutors.
Bonjean was visibly exasperated at Huth’s lack of cooperation, repeatedly referring to Huth’s depositions and declarations to clarify the record in court when Huth claimed to not know.
Perhaps the most explosive moment of testimony arrived when Bonjean questioned Huth about a National Enquirer story from 2006. The article said that Huth never touched Cosby, but instead watched in horror as he masturbated in front of her. Huth said she had never seen the piece and had been told it was squashed because the paper got a “Cosby exclusive.” She grew animated at the accusation that she had once told a different story.
“I swear to God, on my kid’s life, that is a lie.” she said.
A judge appears strongly inclined to allow Bill Cosby to invoke his 5th Amendment privilege and avoid giving a deposition in a sexual assault lawsuit.
Huth’s testimony arrived nearly a week after opening statements, where her lawyer attempted to underscore the unlikely circumstances of how Cosby met Huth.
“By 1975, Bill Cosby was a celebrity and a star,” Goldberg said in court last Wednesday. “In 1975, Judy Huth was a high school student. She was 16 years old. The odds of their worlds colliding were slight to none.”
After describing the alleged assault, Goldberg compared it to allegations raised by two other women who are scheduled to testify. They said Cosby had attacked them in a similar manner.
“He is a planner, he plans all this,” Goldberg said. “Why is he hanging out with these kids?”
In her opening statement for the defense, Bonjean told the jury that Huth’s allegations “are a half-century old.”
“But it is the plaintiff who waited 40 years to press charges,” she added. “You don’t reduce the burden of proof.”
Cosby’s lawyers say the trial court judge bungled the case by allowing five women to testify about their experiences with the comedian.
So far, the proceedings have not be shown on TV or made available to stream. The judge may permit filming for closing statements, however.
Cosby was previously convicted of sexual assault in an unrelated case in 2018. However, that ruling was overturned last year due to a “non-prosecution” agreement the actor-comedian had made with a former district attorney in 2014. He was released from prison on June 30, 2021.
There’s ample evidence that Cosby sexually assaulted multiple women, but prosecutors were wrong to break an agreement not to use much of that evidence in his criminal trial.
Cosby has claimed innocence in Huth’s case and denied the allegations from all women (about 60 in total) who have accused him of rape and sexual assault, among other alleged crimes.
The former “Cosby Show” star will not testify and likely will not appear in court during his trial with Huth. The trial is expected to last into next week, after which jury deliberations will begin.
Huth is seeking unspecified damages, and because this is a civil trial rather than criminal, Cosby will not go back to prison even if he’s found guilty.
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