SANTA MONICA, CA (Associated Press) – Jurors in a civil trial on Tuesday found that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy mansion in 1975.
The Los Angeles County jury passed the verdict in favor of Judy Huth, now 64, and awarded her $500,000.
The jury found that Cosby intentionally caused harmful sexual contact with Hoth, that he reasonably believed she was under 18, and that his behavior was motivated by an abnormal or abnormal sexual interest in a minor.
The jury’s decision is a major legal defeat for the 84-year-old artist who was once hailed as the Father of America. This comes nearly a year after his criminal conviction in Pennsylvania for sexual assault and his release from prison. Hoth’s lawsuit was one of the last remaining legal cases against him after his insurance company settled several others against his will.
Cosby did not attend the trial or testify in person, but short clips from a 2015 video recording were played to jurors, in which he denied any sexual contact with Huth. He continues to deny the claim through his lawyers and publicists.
The jurors have already reached conclusions on nearly every question in the verdict’s form, including whether Cosby has offended Huth and whether she deserves compensation, after two days of deliberation on Friday. But the former jury juror couldn’t work any more due to a personal commitment, and the jury had to start deliberating from scratch with a replacement juror on Monday.
Cosby’s lawyers agreed that Cosby met Hoth and her high school friend on a Southern California movie set in April 1975, and took them to the Playboy mansion a few days later.
Hoth’s friend Donna Samuelson, the lead witness, took photos at Hoth’s mansion and Cosby, who loomed large at the trial.
Hoth testified that in a bedroom adjacent to a playroom where the three were lounging, Cosby tried to get his hand on her pants, then exposed himself and forced her to perform a sexual act.
Huth filed her lawsuit in 2014, saying her son turned 15 – the age she initially remembered when she went to the mansion – and a wave of other women accusing Cosby of similar actions brought new trauma to her teenage years. .
“My client deserves Mr. Cosby to be held accountable for what he did,” Huth’s attorney, Nathan Goldberg, told the jury of nine women and three men during closing arguments Wednesday.
“Each of you knows in your heart that Mr. Cosby sexually assaulted Miss Hoth,” Goldberg said.
The majority of the jurors apparently agreed, giving Hoth a victory in a lawsuit that lasted eight years and overcame many hurdles just to get a trial.
During their testimony, Cosby’s attorney Jennifer Bunjian regularly challenged Huth and Samuelson about detailed errors in their two stories, similarities in accounts that the attorney said represented a coordination between the two women.
This included women who said in pretrial affidavits and police interviews that Samuelson had played Donkey Kong that day, a game that wasn’t released until six years later.
Bonjean achieved a lot of this, in what both sides called the “Donkey Kong Defense.”
Goldberg asked jurors to look at small mistakes in detail that he said were inevitable in stories that were 45 years old, and focus on the key issues behind the allegations. He noted to jurors that Samuelson said “games like Donkey Kong” when she first mentioned it in her testimony.
Cosby’s attorney began her closing arguments by saying, “It’s going like Donkey Kong” and ended by declaring, “It’s game over.”
Hoth’s lawyer reacted angrily as he refuted him.
“This is about justice!” A crackling shrieked on the podium. “We don’t need the game over! We need justice!”
The Associated Press does not usually cite people who say they have been sexually assaulted, unless they come forward in public, as Huth did.
Associated Press writer Andrew Dalton contributed to this report.
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