Ms. Huth’s lawyers said in court on Wednesday that Bill Cosby took Judy Huth and her friend to the games room at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 1975 when she asked to use the bathroom in an adjacent bedroom.
When I got out of the shower, Mr. Cosby was sitting on the bed. It’s clicking on the bed,” said Nathan Goldberg, a lawyer for Ms Hoth who said she was 16 at the time, as if to say, “Come here.”
“When I did it with shame, that was when it lapsed,” Mr. Goldberg said during his opening remarks in a civil trial that Ms Hoth brought against Mr. Cosby for sexual assault charges.
In their opening remarks, Mr. Cosby’s lawyers dispute Mrs. Hoth’s account, noting that she was an older and willing visitor at the Playboy mansion, who, according to her own account, had not yet escaped an encounter with Mr. Cosby but had remained. For hours, swimming in the pool and watching a movie.
“Boy, did Jodi and Donna enjoy themselves,” said Mr Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bunjian, referring to Mrs. Huth and her friend.
The trial, which is expected to last seven to 10 days, is being held at the Santa Monica branch of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
In their filings, Mr. Cosby’s lawyers denied the allegations, calling them fabricated. “We believe that Mr. Cosby will be fully acquitted once the jury hears the evidence as well as examines the many inconsistent accounts provided by Ms Hoth,” Andrew White, a spokesman for Mr Cosby, said in a statement.
Sexual Assault Cases Against Bill Cosby
After Bill Cosby’s 2018 criminal conviction for sexual assault was overturned, the first civil case accusing him of sexual misconduct has now reached trial.
Elaborating on Mrs. Hoth’s account, Mr. Goldberg said Mr. Cosby had tried to kiss her and put his hands on her pants. When she told him she was menstruating, he took off his pants and “took her hand in his hand” and forced her to do a sexual act, he said.
Mr. Goldberg, speaking for just over an hour, recounted how Mrs. Hoth and her friend were playing frisbee when they saw Mr. Cosby making a movie in a park in San Marino, California.
He invited them to the group and days later brought them to his tennis club, where he followed Mr. Goldberg, and Mr. Cosby encouraged them to have a drink every time they lost in the pool. After that, Mr. Goldberg said, Mr. Cosby had them follow him in a car to the Playboy mansion, where the confrontation took place in the game room.
Mr. Goldberg said Mrs. Hoth wanted to leave at that point, but was persuaded by her friend Donna Samuelson to stay. Ms Samuelson, who testified on Wednesday, said Mr Cosby had kept Ms Hoth “locked up in the room”, and said Mrs Hoth was crying when they came out.
“She grabbed her bag and said we’re getting out of here,” Ms Samuelson told the court. “She told me that Bill Cosby tried to have sex with her.”
She said that she and Mrs. Hoth talked for about half an hour in her car, but she persuaded her friend to stay because she thought an evening at the mansion would calm her down.
‘She asked me not to tell anyone,’ said Mrs. Samuelson. “It was embarrassing and humiliating for her.”
They swam, ordered drinks, mingled with famous actors, and then watched a movie. Only years later, in 2014, when Ms. Huth’s son turned 15 and other women began giving similar accounts of Mr. Cosby, did the emotional damage of what happened to Ms. Huth emerged, her lawyer said.
“It was like a cork coming out of the bottle and all of its buried feelings rushing to the surface,” Mr. Goldberg said.
Mrs. Huth produced photographs of Mrs. Samuelson’s visit to the palace showing Mrs. Huth with Mr. Cosby. Ms Bunjian accused Ms Hoth of “keeping memorabilia” of sexual assault, raising questions about why the victim kept these visiting tokens. The photos were part of a “plan to make money,” said Ms. Bunjian, who spoke for about an hour. “Judy Huth has been trying to make money from these photos for decades.”
Cosby’s legal team also provided records from Playboy Mansion that showed Cosby visiting with two unnamed guests, and said the records showed the two guests stayed at the mansion for approximately 12 hours.
Ms Hoth’s lawsuit, first filed in 2014, has been largely put on hold while Cosby was being tried criminally in another Pennsylvania case where he was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Consand. An appeals court last year overturned the criminal conviction in the 2018 Konstand case based on “due process of law,” and he was released from prison.
Ms Hoth’s case is now being pursued by several other women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, in part because it is the first civil case accusing Cosby of sexual assault to reach trial. Mr. Cosby has denied all allegations of sexual abuse, and said any encounters were consensual.
Mr. Cosby admitted meeting Mrs. Hoth at the Playboy Mansion but denied her allegation of sexual assault and challenged her claim that she was a minor at the time.
Ms. Huth’s legal team said it intended to provide two more women to testify about similar encounters with Mr. Cosby.
Mr. Goldberg said one woman would testify, that Mr. Cosby, whom she met at the donut shop where she worked, had also taken him to the Playboy mansion. The lawyer said that in the games room, Mr. Cosby gave her a pill, and assaulted her because she lost consciousness.
“In each case, he meets them in circumstances that do not appear to be threatening,” Mr. Goldberg said. “He takes them to places where they feel comfortable. They don’t feel threatened in this mansion, the filming location. He doesn’t care about their family or close friends. He has no fear.”
Cosby, 84, has invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and will not testify or attend the trial, his spokesman said. Ms Hoth, 64, attended court Wednesday and is expected to testify later at the trial.
Ms Hoth also reported her accusation to police in 2014, but prosecutors refused to file criminal charges because the statute of limitations had passed.
She was able to sue because under California law, in some cases, the statute of limitations can be extended for people who say they only recently recognized as adults the harm from a repressed incident of sexual abuse they experienced as a child.
The deadline for filing such a claim is set in part when the person, as an adult, becomes aware of the severe psychological impact of abuse.
Mr. Cosby’s lawyers questioned if she only remembered the alleged abuse shortly before the lawsuit was filed because, they said, she contacted a tabloid about it 10 years ago.
They also attempted to prevent the trial from proceeding when Mrs. Hoth changed her account of her recollections of when the encounter occurred. She initially said it happened in 1974, when she was 15. But recently I concluded that it actually happened in 1975, when she was 16 years old. Law in California, then and now, states that the 16-year-old is classified as a minor, but Mr Cosby confirmed that he did not meet Ms Hoth until several years later.
She said she only recently realized that the date was wrong after, among other things, reviewing documents Mr. Cosby had provided that indicated the time of filming of the film she remembered witnessing.