Bill Cosby had taken Judy Huth and her friend into the playroom at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 1975 when she asked to use the bathroom in an adjoining bedroom, Ms Huth’s attorneys said in court on Wednesday.
When she came out of the bathroom, Mr. Cosby was sitting on the bed. “He’s pounding on the bed,” said Nathan Goldberg, an attorney for Ms. Huth, who said she was 16 at the time, as if to say, “Come here.”
“When she reacted timidly, he fell,” Mr. Goldberg said during opening remarks in the civil case brought by Ms. Huth against Mr. Cosby for sexual assault.
In their opening remarks, Mr Cosby’s lawyers disputed Ms Huth’s portrayal and suggested that she was an elderly and willing visitor to the Playboy mansion who, by her own admission, did not flee after an encounter with Mr Cosby but stayed on for hours , swim in the pool and watch a movie.
“Boy, did Judy and Donna have a good time,” said one of Mr. Cosby’s lawyers, Jennifer Bonjean, referring to Ms. Huth and her friend.
The trial, which is expected to last seven to 10 days, will take place at the Santa Monica branch of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
In their filing, Mr Cosby’s lawyers have dismissed the allegations, calling them fake. “We believe Mr Cosby will be fully exonerated once the jury has heard the evidence and examined Ms Huth’s many conflicting accounts,” Mr Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, said in a statement.
The sexual assault cases against Bill Cosby
After Bill Cosby’s 2018 criminal conviction on sexual assault charges was overturned, the first civil case charging him with sexual misconduct has now gone to trial.
In describing Ms Huth’s account, Mr Goldberg said Mr Cosby tried to kiss her and put his hands down her trousers. When she told him she was on her period, he dropped his pants and “took her hand with his” and forced her into a sexual act, he said.
Mr. Goldberg spoke for just over an hour and recounted how Ms. Huth and her friend were playing Frisbee when they spotted Mr. Cosby shooting a movie in a park in San Marino, California.
He invited them to the set and days later took them to his tennis club, where Mr. Cosby encouraged them to have a drink every time they lost at the pool, Mr. Goldberg continued. After that, said Mr. Goldberg, Mr. Cosby had her follow him in a car to the Playboy Mansion, where the playroom encounter took place.
Mr Goldberg said Ms Huth wanted to leave at the time but her friend Donna Samuelson persuaded her to stay. Ms Samuelson, who testified on Wednesday, said Mr Cosby “locked” Ms Huth in the room and said Ms Huth cried when they went outside.
“She grabbed her purse and said we’re getting out of here,” Ms Samuelson told the court. “She told me Bill Cosby tried to have sex with her.”
She said she and Ms Huth talked in their car for about half an hour, but she persuaded her friend to stay because she thought an evening at the villa would calm her down.
“She told me not to tell anyone,” Ms. Samuelson said. “It was embarrassing and humiliating for her.”
They swam and ordered drinks, mingled with famous actors and later watched a movie. It wasn’t until years later, in 2014, when Ms Huth’s son turned 15 and other women began bringing up similar accounts about Mr Cosby, that the emotional damage of what had happened to Ms Huth came to the fore, her lawyer said.
“It was like a cork popping out of the bottle and all her buried feelings rushed to the surface,” said Mr. Goldberg.
Mrs Huth has submitted photographs of Mrs Samuelson’s visit to the villa, showing Mrs Huth with Mr Cosby. Ms Bonjean accused Ms Huth of retaining “memories” of a sexual assault and raised questions as to why a victim would retain such marks of the visit. The photos were part of “a scheme to make money,” said Ms Bonjean, who spoke for about an hour. “Judy Huth has been trying to make money from these photos for decades.”
Mr Cosby’s legal team has also produced records from the Playboy mansion showing Mr Cosby visiting with two unnamed guests and said the records showed the two guests stayed at the mansion for around 12 hours.
Ms Huth’s lawsuit, first filed in 2014, had been largely stayed while Mr Cosby was prosecuted in another case in Pennsylvania, where he was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. The 2018 criminal conviction in the Constand case was overturned by an appeals court on “due process” grounds last year and he was released from prison.
Ms Huth’s case is now being followed by some of the many other women who have accused Mr Cosby of sexual misconduct, in part because it is the first civil case alleging Mr Cosby of sexual assault to go to trial. Mr Cosby has denied all allegations of sexual assault and said all encounters were consensual.
Mr Cosby has admitted meeting Ms Huth at the Playboy Mansion but has denied her allegations of sexual assault and questioned her claims that she was a minor at the time.
Ms Huth’s legal team said they intend to introduce two other women to testify about similar encounters with Mr Cosby.
One of the women will testify, said Mr. Goldberg, that Mr. Cosby, whom she met at a donut shop where she worked, was also brought to the Playboy Mansion by Mr. Cosby. In the playroom, Mr. Cosby gave her a pill, the lawyer said, and he attacked her when she passed out.
“In any event, he meets her under circumstances that don’t seem threatening,” said Mr. Goldberg. “He takes them where they feel comfortable. You don’t feel threatened in this mansion, the film set. He doesn’t care about her family or friends nearby. He has no fear.”
Mr. Cosby, 84, has invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and will not testify or attend the trial, his spokesman said. Ms Huth, 64, was in court on Wednesday and is expected to testify later in the trial.
Ms Huth also reported her allegation to the police in 2014, but prosecutors declined to press charges because the statute of limitations had expired.
She was able to file a lawsuit because under California law, in some cases, the statute of limitations can be extended for people who indicate that they only recently, as adults, realized the harm caused by a suppressed incident of sexual abuse that happened to them as a child experienced.
The time limit for filing such a lawsuit is determined in part by when the person, as an adult, becomes aware of the severe psychological impact of the abuse.
Mr Cosby’s lawyers have questioned whether she recalled the alleged abuse just moments before filing the lawsuit because, they say, she contacted a tabloid about it 10 years ago.
They also attempted to prevent the trial when Ms Huth recently altered her memory of the time of the encounter. She initially said it happened in 1974 when she was 15 years old. But recently she came to the conclusion that it was actually 1975 when she was 16 years old. California law, then and now, states that a 16-year-old is considered a minor, but Mr Cosby has claimed he did not meet Ms Huth until several years later.
She said she only recently realized she had the wrong date after, among other things, reviewing documents provided by Mr Cosby which clarified when the filming took place, which she recalled witnessing.