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Lawyers representing disgraced actor Bill Cosby used the so-called “Donkey Kong defense” during the ongoing civil case against the actor accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy mansion in 1975.
The “Donkey Kong defense” came into play Monday when Cosby’s attorney pressed a key witness for earlier testimony that she played the arcade game during a visit with Cosby to the Playboy Mansion in 1975, six years before its release . The testimony came in the Los Angeles County lawsuit of Judy Huth, who also began testifying Monday but has not yet detailed her allegation that Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion when she was 16. Cosby denies her allegations.
Cosby did not have to attend the trial.
Donna Samuelson, a high school friend of Huth’s who accompanied her and Cosby on a visit to the mansion, returned to the witness stand Monday and testified about the playroom with an adjoining bedroom where Huth said Cosby took her to a sex act forced.
“You have testified numerous times that you played Donkey Kong,” Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, told Samuelson, citing a 2014 police interview and a 2016 testimony in Huth’s case.
“If I did it, I did it,” Samuelson said. “I understand it wasn’t there yet.”
Bonjean played a clip from the statement in which Samuelson made multiple references to the game.
When asked Monday to explain the discrepancy, Samuelson replied, “I got the name wrong. I just kept saying that because it was a game. It could have been Atari.”
She also said she was playing the game when Cosby came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders before shaking them off.
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Bonjean showed Samuelson and the jury a photo of the game room taken in 2016 where a Donkey Kong game was featured and asked if similar photos taken years after 1975 might have affected her memory and testimony.
Samuelson responded that she had not seen such a picture until she was shown the 2016 photo during her testimony in court last week.
Huth’s attorney, Nathan Goldberg, warned the jury during his opening statement that they would hear “the defense of Donkey Kong” from Cosby’s attorneys.
“So she got the name wrong,” Goldberg said, “so what?”
Bonjean embraced the term in her opening, saying Huth’s similar earlier statements about Samuelson playing the game and photos showing it later in the room were evidence that the two women were coordinating a false story.
Huth, 64, commented briefly late Monday, recalling that spring day in 1975 when she and Samuelson took her brother’s dog to play Frisbee at Lacy Park in San Marino, Calif., a place they frequented to play. She said they noticed there was a production going on there that would turn out to be a shoot for the movie Let’s Do It Again. They saw stars Sidney Poitier, Jimmie Walker and Cosby, Huth said.
She recalled whispering “That’s Bill Cosby” to Samuelson, and Cosby playfully mimicking her whisper and pretending to hold his own dog’s leash.
She testified that after chatting for a while, Cosby invited her to see him play tennis at a club in Los Angeles the following Saturday. Huth said they were “excited because we were kids and he was a celebrity. It sure wasn’t the norm.”
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The girls met Cosby at the club, where they briefly watched him play tennis, and then went to the local house where he was staying. There, Cosby reportedly suggested playing a game of pool and suggested the stakes.
“He said for every game I lose I have to drink a beer and for every game he loses he has to drink a beer,” Huth said.
Huth said she had between one and three beers.
“I’m sure I felt the effects of the alcohol,” she said.
After about an hour, Cosby said he had a surprise for them, and they followed him in Samuelson’s Mustang to a gate where the two cars were admitted, Huth said. They parked and walked into a game room where Buck Owens, country star and host of TV show “Hee Haw,” was playing pool but left after a few minutes, Huth said.
She said she realized she was in the Playboy Mansion when she saw a drawing on the wall signed “To Hugh” and slowly realized it was referring to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.
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When asked by her lawyer how she reacted to this, she only replied with “Wow”.
She was shown a photograph taken by Samuelson in the playroom.
“It’s me and Bill Cosby, she said.”
The picture essential to the Huth case has been shown to juries several times. It shows Cosby wearing a red cap and smiling next to teenager Huth.
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Cosby’s lawyers admit he brought the girls into the mansion but deny there was any sexual assault. They have described Huth’s lawsuit as a plan to monetize the photos taken that day.
They previously argued that Huth was actually 18 when the mansion visit took place, which would make any violation under California law significantly less serious.
Cosby’s attorneys have not said what evidence they will use to prove it, stressing that the burden of proof lies with the plaintiffs as to when the visit took place.
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Huth reportedly changed her memory of the events just weeks before her trial after evidence uncovered by her attorneys led her to believe she had met Cosby on the film set in 1975, when she was 16, rather than in late 1973 or early 1974 , when she was 15 years old .
The Associated Press contributed to this report.