In closing statements, Bill Cosby’s lawyer tries to poke holes in accuser’s testimony

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Bill Cosby attends his sexual assault retrial at a Pennsylvania courthouse in 2018.
(Mark Makela / Getty Images)
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Attorneys for Bill Cosby and Judy Huth delivered closing statements Wednesday in the latest sexual assault trial against the disgraced actor and comedian.

Huth, a 64-year-old California resident who has accused Cosby of sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion when she was a teenager, recalled the alleged assault in graphic detail last week during the civil trial unfolding this month in Santa Monica.

Via video testimony taped in October 2015 and screened last week for the jury, Cosby denied Huth’s allegations and claimed that he didn’t remember meeting her in the mid-1970s when the incident allegedly occurred.


Judy Huth, who has accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager in the 1970s, testified in a Santa Monica court Tuesday.

June 7, 2022

The jury filed into the courtroom Wednesday around 10 a.m., at which point Judge Craig D. Karlan apologized for a 30-minute delay caused by a power outage at the courthouse that morning.

Before closing arguments commenced, a video deposition from the late Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner was played for the jury. In the footage from 2016, Hefner described the configurations of game rooms and adjoining bedrooms in the Playboy Mansion. (Cosby allegedly assaulted Huth in one of the bedrooms adjacent to the game rooms Hefner spoke about.)

Asked if visitors to the Playboy Mansion are allowed to engage in sexual activity in the rooms, Hefner said, “It depended very much on the circumstances.” He added that having underage guests at the mansion was “unusual” but “there were exceptions” when parents were present.

Hefner said in his deposition that Cosby was not allowed to bring underage girls to the Playboy Mansion and that he never noticed the comedian doing so. However, he couldn’t say whether the staff at the mansion routinely checked visitors’ identification to determine their ages upon entry or while serving them alcoholic drinks. Asked if the mansion’s security team normally checked guests’ ID cards, Hefner replied, “I think so, but I didn’t really know.”

While at the mansion, Hefner said, Cosby was treated like everyone else and had “no special privileges.” He identified Cosby as one of his closest friends in the mid-1970s and couldn’t recall discussing bringing underage girls to the mansion with the TV star.

After Hefner’s video deposition concluded, the prosecution began delivering its closing argument around 10:15 a.m. While addressing the jury, Huth’s attorney Nathan Goldberg meticulously recapped and opined on each witness’ testimony, often referencing evidence and testimony transcripts shown on a screen in the courtroom.


He argued that Huth is not only a victim of sexual assault but of pervasive victim-blaming.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned … [it’s] how much courage it takes … to bring a claim like this against someone like Mr. Cosby — a celebrity, powerful,” Goldberg said.

Revisiting Huth’s testimony in detail, Goldberg reminded the jury that a teenage Huth and her 17-year-old friend Donna Samuelson allegedly shared their ages with Cosby before he served them drinks and invited them to the Playboy Mansion. After the assault allegedly took place, Goldberg said, “Cosby acted like nothing happened” and Huth “was afraid to say anything” in his presence.

On the screen appeared a photo that the jury had seen several times before — of Cosby and Huth together at the Playboy Mansion. Goldberg also referenced remarks from Samuelson, who testified that a distraught Huth begged her to leave the Playboy Mansion after Cosby allegedly assaulted her.

“Why in the world would she want to leave if nothing happened?” Goldberg asked the jury. “Of course that’s the reason.”

Goldberg also dismissed the defense’s argument that the allegations leveled by Huth are part of an elaborate “plot hatched by” her and Samuelson. He characterized the defense’s strategy as “little sniper attacks which have no bearing on anything.”


To underscore his argument, he told the stories of other Cosby accusers in an attempt to establish a “common plan — get the victim to a certain place and then take advantage of them.”

“Frankly, it’s a little bit insulting that to suggest that Ms. Huth and Ms. Samuelson were trying to deceive people,” Goldberg said.

Cosby’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean interrupted Goldberg’s speech more than 10 times to call for objections — the vast majority of which Karlan overruled.

“Ultimately, the jury has to decide what the facts are,” Karlan told Bonjean after overruling one of several objections she made.

Toward the end of his closing statement, Goldberg detailed the psychological toll the alleged assault took on Huth, as well as the traumatic yet empowering effect other accusers’ stories had on her.

“Cosby was sentenced to prison [in 2018], and that changed things for her,” Goldberg said. “She was relieved. … Now the world knew.”


Ultimately, Goldberg implored the jury to “use your best judgment, use your common sense” and “decide what’s right.”

“To do justice in this case, you have to make sure that you hold Mr. Cosby fully, completely accountable for the harm that he did,” Goldberg said.

Following a lunch break, it was the defense’s turn to present its final thoughts to the jury. But not before Judge Karlan presented jurors with a surprise gift — homemade chocolate-chip cookies baked by his daughter — “to keep you awake for the afternoon session.”

Once the cookies were distributed, Bonjean began her closing argument at about 1:40 p.m. with a bit of an inside joke.

“All I have to say is, it’s on like Donkey Kong,” she quipped, referring to Team Cosby’s “Donkey Kong defense.”

The “Donkey Kong defense” alludes to previous statements Samuelson made about playing the video game “Donkey Kong” in a room adjacent to the bedroom where Cosby allegedly assaulted Huth that night.


During cross-examination last week, Bonjean pointed out that “Donkey Kong” wasn’t released until six years after the assault allegedly took place. (Because Huth also has spoken about Samuelson playing “Donkey Kong,” Team Cosby has tried to leverage the error as proof that the duo concocted a false story together.)

Samuelson said last week that she simply misremembered the name of the video game, musing that it “could have been Atari.”

Throughout her closing argument on Wednesday, Bonjean continued to try to poke holes in the testimonies of “Ms. Huth and her sidekicks.” She also discouraged the jury from looking at the case through “the Bill Cosby lens” and making a decision based on outside knowledge of Cosby or other claims brought against him by other women.

“Ladies and gentlemen, can you imagine how hard it is to defend a case when you start with the label of sexual predator ... and work back from it?” Bonjean said.

“Doing what is right isn’t always popular. And what’s popular isn’t always right.”

Repeatedly, Bonjean accused Goldberg of “cherry-picking” quotes from people’s testimonies and insisted that Huth was an unreliable witness.

Leading up to closing arguments, much of the defense’s case has focused on the shifting timeline of Huth’s allegations. Initially, the plaintiff from Riverside County claimed the assault occurred in 1974 when she was 15. But she has since altered her account to say that it happened in 1975 when she was 16.


In court, Huth explained that she changed the date of her story upon reviewing images and media materials from the time period indicating that the assault took place a year after she originally thought.

“She got [her age] wrong for how many years?” Bonjean asked. “Forty years? Twenty years? Thirty years?”

Team Cosby also has scrutinized the 40-year gap between the alleged assault and the date Huth filed her lawsuit against the former “Cosby Show” star in December 2014.

“The claim is a half-century old, ladies and gentlemen,” Bonjean told the jury on Wednesday. “Think about that. ... We cannot raise people from the dead [to get] firsthand knowledge from the mansion.”

Continuing to discredit Huth’s testimony, Bonjean cast doubt on the plaintiff’s claim that she and Samuelson told Cosby how old they were before he invited them to the Playboy Mansion. As photos of teen Huth appeared on the screen, Bonjean argued that she looked older than her age at the time and that Cosby wouldn’t have been able to tell she was a minor.

At one point, Bonjean attempted to replay a clip from Cosby’s deposition but was thwarted by technical difficulties. Instead, she reminded the jury that Cosby claimed he was unaware that Huth and Samuelson were under 18.


“These were young women who did not present as children or even young teenagers,” Bonjean said, adding that Huth and Samuelson “fit right in” with other “young women at the Playboy Mansion.”

As Bonjean continued to pick at her testimony, Huth remained relatively still in the courtroom. But she did shake her head at least once — when Bonjean challenged her claim that the alleged assault was her first sexual experience.

Bonjean also maintained that Team Huth did not prove and “cannot prove” that the alleged assault involved “contact with a sex organ.”

Though she expressed sympathy for the “significant” amount of trauma Huth said she has endured throughout her life, Bonjean argued that any negative impacts on Huth’s mental health cannot be solely linked to Cosby.

“It’s not your job to fill in the blanks and assume the worst,” Bonjean told the jury. “Even if it’s Bill Cosby.”

She concluded her remarks by circling back to the “Donkey Kong” of it all and motioning toward the screen, which showed the words “game over” in video game lettering.


Launching into his rebuttal argument with a raised voice, Goldberg said, “Game over? This is a game? ... We have a client who was sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby.”

Though he conceded that Huth “is not a perfect witness” and “doesn’t have a perfect memory,” Goldberg asserted that his client “has a very perfect memory about being assaulted at the Playboy Mansion.”

After Bonjean hurled yet another objection at him, the attorneys began to snipe at each other. Rattled, Goldberg turned away from the jury and shouted at Bonjean, “Have some respect for someone who was sexually assaulted! Have some respect!”

Video testimony played for jurors at a civil trial shows Bill Cosby denying sexually abusing a teenage girl at the Playboy Mansion in the mid-1970s.

June 9, 2022

While testifying in court earlier this month, Huth recalled allegedly meeting Cosby in the mid-1970s. She said that Cosby gave her and a friend, Samuelson, drinks before taking them to the Playboy Mansion in L.A. and instructing them to tell people they were 19 if asked.

Huth teared up on the stand while recounting the alleged assault, which began with Cosby trying to put his hands down her pants. To get him to stop, Huth testified, she lied and told him she was menstruating. He then allegedly forced her hand onto his erect penis and used it to masturbate until he climaxed, she said.

In her lawsuit, Huth contended that the alleged assault caused her psychological distress in the form of anxiety attacks and flashbacks that began in 2014 and continued until 2018 — when Cosby was convicted of sexual assault in an unrelated case and sent to a Pennsylvania prison.


(Cosby was released from prison in June 2021 after that ruling was overturned due to a “non-prosecution” agreement the entertainer struck with a former district attorney in 2014.)

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.

May 31, 2022

Throughout the trial, a pair of photos that Samuelson took of Cosby with Huth at the Playboy Mansion have been presented repeatedly to the jury. Though Bonjean has conceded that Cosby brought Samuelson and Huth to the mansion, the comic’s representatives have maintained that nothing sexual transpired.

Over the years, Cosby has consistently rejected allegations of rape, sexual assault and other crimes leveled by approximately 60 women. The 84-year-old performer is not expected to participate in this trial.

Jury deliberation is set to begin Thursday after jurors receive instructions from the judge starting at 9 a.m. 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.

Times staff writer Kenan Draughorne contributed to this report.