Former US television star Bill Cosby has been found guilty in a civil trial of sexually abusing a teenager more than 45 years ago. A jury in Santa Monica, California, on Tuesday sentenced the 84-year-old to pay plaintiff Judy Huth $500,000 in damages. It is Cosby’s first conviction in a civil trial over sexual abuse allegations.
Huth, now 64, accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her in 1975 when she was 16. The attack took place in the famous Playboy Mansion, the villa of “Playboy” founder Hugh Hefner in Los Angeles.
According to Huth’s attorney, Nathan Goldberg, Cosby first got the teen drunk and then took her to the Playboy Mansion. In a bedroom he “threw himself” on her and tried “to put his hands in her pants”. When she told him she was on her period, Cosby forced her to masturbate him, the attorney said during the two-week trial.
The actor, who became world famous with the sitcom “The Bill Cosby Show”, who stayed away from the process, denies any assault. His lawyers questioned Huth’s description of the events, in part because the plaintiff had changed the date of the crime from 1974 to 1975.
Huth only filed her lawsuit in 2014, and the process was later put on hold for years. From a criminal point of view, the allegations are time-barred. However, California law allows civil suits by adults who were victims of sexual violence when they were minors, even after the usual statute of limitations.
According to her lawyer, Huth had suppressed the incident for years. The memory was awakened again when other women made allegations of sexual violence against Cosby public. “It was like a cork popping out of a bottle,” attorney Goldberg said at the trial. “Memories have surfaced.”
More than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual abuse, but most cases are statute-barred. In a 2018 trial in the state of Pennsylvania, the former acting star was found guilty of sexually abusing a woman in 2004. The court saw it as proven that Cosby drugged his victim in his home in the east coast metropolis of Philadelphia and molested the woman.
Cosby was sentenced to several years in prison. However, he was released from custody in June 2021 after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the verdict on formal grounds.