A jury in California on Tuesday found that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted Judy Huth in 1975, when as a star-struck 16-year-old she accepted his invitation to join him at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
The decision again tarnished the reputation of a man whose standing as one of America’s most beloved entertainers dissolved as dozens of women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct.
As part of its decision, the jury awarded Huth $500,000 in damages.
The court listened to the verdict in silence, but after the judge dismissed the jury, Huth hugged her lawyers and beamed.
“I feel vindicated,” Huth said, smiling, to a reporter in the courtroom as she stood beside her lawyer, Gloria Allred.
Beyond its significance to Huth, who first came forward with her accusations in 2014, the verdict offered a degree of satisfaction for many of the women who for years have accused Cosby of similar abuse. The Huth case, for them, offered a second chance at getting public vindication of their accounts after Cosby’s criminal conviction in the Andrea Constand case was overturned by an appellate panel last year on due process grounds.
Many of the accusers had been barred from filing suits because they had not come forward at the time when they said Cosby had attacked them. But Huth’s suit was able to move forward because the jury agreed she was a minor at the time, and California law extends the time frame in which people molested as children can file a civil claim.
The verdict was a particular setback for Cosby who, upon his release after serving nearly three years in prison, had promoted the appeals court decision as a full exoneration, an overstatement now overshadowed by another finding that reinforces an image of him as a person who wielded his celebrity to take advantage of women.
Cosby has consistently denied the accounts of all of the women, asserting that, if he had sexual encounters with anyone, it had always been consensual.
The jury’s decision came after a trial during which Huth, now 64, told of how a chance meeting with Cosby while he filmed a movie in a local park led her eventually to an isolated bedroom in the Playboy Mansion. In often emotional testimony, she described how a famous man she had once admired, whose comedy records her father collected, tried to put his hand down her pants and then forced her to perform a sex act on him.
“I had my eyes closed at that point,” Huth said in court. “I was freaking out.”
Afterward, she said, she was “mad – I felt duped, fooled. I was let down. I was hurt.”
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