Jun 8, 2022
Approximately one year ago, Bill Cosby was freed from prison on a procedural issue after being found guilty by a jury on criminal sexual assault charges. This week, the entertainer formerly known as America’s Dad is involved in a Los Angeles sexual assault civil suit filed by Judy Huth, 64.
Huth alleges Cosby, 84, sexually assaulted her during a visit to the Playboy Mansion in 1975. At the time, she was 16.
Huth’s high school friend, Donna Samuelson, who accompanied her to the mansion, was the first witness to testify when the trial began last week.
“She said ‘I want to go, I wanna leave,’ she was crying,” Samuelson stated during testimony, adding that she was initially angry with Huth because she has been “looking forward to spending the rest of the afternoon and evening at the mansion,” according to USA TODAY.
“She said Bill Cosby had tried to have sex with her,” Samuelson said.
According to Samuelson’s testimony, the incident occurred while she was in a game room and Huth was with Cosby in an adjacent bedroom. Huth alleges Cosby forced her to perform a sex act.
Much of the media attention surrounding the latest Bill Cosby sexual assault trial has focused on the “Donkey Kong defense.”
“Huth told Samuelson that in a bedroom off a game room on the mansion grounds where the three had been hanging out and playing pool and arcade games, Cosby had tried to put his hand down her tight pants, then exposed himself, forcing Huth to touch him sexually, testified Samuelson, who had been distracted playing a game and was oblivious to what had happened,” according to a USA TODAY report.
In a 2014 police interview and 2016 deposition in Huth’s sexual assault case against Cosby, Samuelson reportedly testified that the video game she had been playing at the time of the alleged incident was Donkey Kong.
But Cosby’s defense attorneys have highlighted the fact that the game was released six years after 1975, when the alleged sexual assault occurred.
“You testified multiple times that you were playing Donkey Kong,” Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, told Samuelson.
“If I did I did,” Samuelson responded. “I understand it wasn’t around yet.”
Bonjean proceeded to play a clip from the 2016 deposition, in which Samuelson referred to the game several times.
When asked to explain the discrepancy, Samuelson reportedly testified:
“I got the name wrong. I just kept saying that because it was a game. It could have been Atari.“
In his opening statement, Huth’s attorney acknowledged that they would be hearing “the Donkey Kong defense” from Cosby’s legal team.
“So she got the name wrong,” attorney Nathan Goldberg said, “so what?”
But Bonjean “embraced the term” in her opening statement, according to USA TODAY, claiming that Huth’s similar prior statements regarding Donkey Kong together with Samuelson’s were evidence that the two women coordinated a false story against Cosby.
“This is about a plan hatched by Judy Huth and her estranged friend Donna Samuelson based on some photos,” lawyer Jennifer Bonjean said. “You will learn Judy Huth has been trying to cash in on these photos for decades.”
The current sexual assault civil trial in a Santa Monica, California, court is one of the last claims against Cosby following his criminal conviction being overturned on appeal. Cosby’s insurer, AIG, has already settled several sexual assault civil lawsuits against his will.
Cosby is not attending the trial, according to an NBC News report, and will not testify. Portions of a video deposition he gave shortly after the 2014 lawsuit was filed by Huth will be played, NBC News said.
In the complaint, Huth alleges Cosby placed his hands down her pants and then forced her to fondle him. Her lawyers have told the court that the alleged incident caused her to endure depression and anxiety, and that despite a happy childhood, the assault “derailed her” life, according to a New York Times report. Huth reportedly didn’t earn her high school diploma until she was 60.
During her testimony, Huth said Cosby kept pursuing her despite telling him that she was “15 or 16” years old. She also claims to have told Cosby that she was on her menstrual cycle – even though she was not – in hopes that he would stop, NBC News reported.
“He forced himself on me,” Huth said. “I was shocked to say the least.”
“I was trying to deflect,” she said. “But he didn’t stop. I just closed my eyes. … It was so fast. Maybe five minutes. Quick.”
After the alleged incident, Huth said Cosby walked out the room before she ultimately followed him to the grotto area of the Playboy Mansion, where they took a photo together. Said photo was shown in court. As Huth looked at the photo during testimony, she reportedly said she felt “mad, duped, and foolish.”
“I felt let down. I was hurt,” Huth said.
The photo, featuring Cosby wearing a red beanie and smiling next to the teenage Huth, has reportedly been shown to jurors several times throughout the trial.
In addition to the “Donkey Kong defense,” Cosby’s lawyers have attempted to undermine Huth’s credibility, noting that her recollection of when the alleged sexual assault incident took place has changed.
“While she initially said it had happened in 1974, when she was 15, she more recently concluded it was in 1975, when she was 16. The law in California classified a 16-year-old as a minor. In disputing Ms. Huth’s account, Mr. Cosby’s lawyers have suggested they met years after the time she said they did, when she was no longer a minor,” the New York Times reported.
Whether Huth was 15 or 16 at the time of the alleged sexual assault by Bill Cosby, she is classified as a minor under California law.
Accordingly, Huth is able to bring a civil claim against Cosby under California AB 218, a new law allowing any survivor of childhood sexual abuse the opportunity to pursue justice for past crimes.
Under California AB 218, the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse crimes is tolled (paused). For a limited time, all survivors of childhood sexual abuse in California are eligible to file civil lawsuits in pursuit of financial compensation against either a perpetrating individual or entity.
However, the three-year lookback window (also known as a revival window) afforded to survivors under AB 218 expires on December 31, 2022. After that time, many survivors of childhood sexual abuse – particularly those who endured crimes many years ago and did not officially file civil claims – will be left without legal recourse.
Filing a childhood sex crime civil lawsuit is a choice that can only be made by the survivor or, if the victim is still a minor, the survivor’s family. When a survivor comes forward with a civil claim, there are possible factors that may be viewed as beneficial when compared to criminal lawsuits.
Such benefits may include:
DLG offers child sex abuse survivors a unique type of legal representation which includes a four-tiered team of professionals known as the SAJE Team (Sexual Abuse Justice Experts).
The SAJE Team provides sexual assault survivors with all-encompassing support, including victim advocates, an in-house clinical therapist, a retired LAPD sex crimes detective, and a former sex crimes prosecutor with more than 100 jury trial victories.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.