After an emotional turn on the witness stand in which she described being molested by a celebrity she had admired, Judy Huth on Tuesday fought back questions from Bill Cosby’s attorneys in court as they attempted to validate her impassioned sexual assault testimony as to discredit teenagers.
Ms. Huth, who often cried, told the Santa Monica jury how she traveled to the Playboy Mansion with Mr. Cosby in 1975, where she said she came out of the bathroom to find the entertainer sitting on the bed in an isolated adjoining room.
“He patted the seat next to him,” she said. “I sat down. He tried to lean me back, he tried to kiss me, he tried to put his hands under my belly button where my high-waisted pants were.”
To distract him, Ms Huth said she told Mr Cosby she was on her period. But then, she said, “he pulled down his sweatpants, grabbed my hand, put it over his hand, closed it,” and forced her to perform a sexual act on him.
Mr Cosby has denied the sexual assault and on Tuesday during cross-examination one of his lawyers, Jennifer Bonjean, tried to undermine the credibility of Ms Huth’s account by asking why she had changed the date she said it was happened and accused them of giving conflicting versions. Ms Bonjean read previous testimonies in which Ms Huth said she could not remember how she felt in the days and months following her encounter with Mr Cosby and said they were contrary to her testimony at the trial, feeling depressed and isolated when she described it.
“It’s hard to keep lying,” Ms Bonjean said.
“I’m not lying,” Mrs. Huth replied.
Ms Huth reported her allegation to police in 2014, but prosecutors declined to press charges because the statute of limitations had expired. But her attorneys then filed a civil lawsuit because California is extending the judicial period for people who say they were molested when they were minors but have repressed the experience and didn’t realize the traumatic effects until adulthood.
Mr Cosby’s team have questioned whether Ms Huth had in fact suppressed a memory of an encounter, or whether she simply came forward with an accusation of joining others who were providing reports of Mr Cosby’s misconduct at the time.
The sexual assault cases against Bill Cosby
After Bill Cosby’s 2018 criminal conviction of sexual assault was overturned, the first civil case charging him with sexual misconduct has gone to trial.
When questioned repeatedly by Ms Bonjean, Ms Huth denied that she coordinated her 2014 report with a friend, Donna Samuelson, who had accompanied her to the Playboy Mansion decades earlier when she visited Mr Cosby.
She also denied that in 2004 she and her friend coordinated an attempt to reach a tabloid journalist to discuss the sexual assault allegation. Cosby’s defense has suggested the efforts were evidence Ms Huth had a solid recollection of her experience at the Playboy Mansion a full decade before she went to the police force.
Ms. Samuelson had photographed Mr. Cosby and Ms. Huth together at the Playboy Mansion, and Ms. Bonjean suggested that the photos were the key to the tabloid paying for an article.
“You told her you were willing to get up to $20,000 and you told her you would share the proceeds,” Ms. Bonjean said if she provided the photos.
But Ms Huth, whose account has supported Ms Samuelson during earlier testimony at the trial, said that was not the case.
Mr Cosby’s lawyers have suggested that the encounter at the villa did in fact take place years later than Ms Huth said it did, and that Ms Huth was an elderly and willing visitor to the villa at the time, who, by her own admission after the encounter, did not fled but stayed for hours.
During her testimony, Ms Huth spoke about how she felt after what she described as sexual assault. She was, she said, “mad — I felt duped, deceived. I was disappointed. I was injured.”
But although she “freaked out” and “wanted to go,” she said Ms. Samuelson, who drove her there, persuaded her to stay.
Ms Huth’s lawsuit has largely been on hold for years while Pennsylvania prosecutors prosecuted Mr Cosby, 84, on charges of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee.
But Mr. Cosby’s 2018 conviction in that case was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last year on due process grounds, and Mr. Cosby walked free.
Ms Huth, 64, told the court on Monday that she and Ms Samuelson met Mr Cosby on the set of a film he was filming in a California park. Mr. Cosby, she said, invited them to his tennis club and then gave them alcohol at a house where he stayed before asking them to follow him in their car to the Playboy Mansion.
The jury was shown a photograph taken by Mrs Samuelson of Mr Cosby and Mrs Huth walking together outside the manor house. Mr. Cosby later went on another engagement and the two friends stayed behind, she said, and swam in the outdoor pool. They ordered sunrise cocktails with tequila and when Mr. Cosby returned they watched a movie together until they left around midnight.
Ms Huth told Ms Samuelson that Mr Cosby had attacked her but she asked her friend, she said, not to tell anyone because she was embarrassed and blamed herself for being there.
In the years that followed, she said she buried the traumatic experience.
“It’s like garbage,” she said. “You dig a hole and throw garbage in it.”
To explain why she did not file a lawsuit until 2014, Ms Huth said it was a time when she had seen many other women come forward publicly to accuse Mr Cosby of sexual misconduct, noting that her own son was 15 years old. The emotional damage caused by the attack eventually came to the fore, she said.
“I got into an emotional turmoil thinking about if something like this would happen to him,” she said.
Mr Cosby’s lawyers have determined in court proceedings that Ms Huth’s memory of the time of their encounter has altered. While she originally said it happened in 1974 when she was 15, she recently concluded that it was in 1975 when she was 16.
Ms Huth said she recently realized she had made a mistake, partly because she saw a 1975 photograph of Mr Cosby sporting a beard and looking like she said he did when they were together in the Playboy Mansion went.