Los Angeles, June 16 (IANS) Comedian-actor Bill Cosby’s civil case with regards to sexual molestation of Judy Huth at the Playboy Mansion 47 years ago, saw a major showdown between plaintiff’s attorney and defendant attorney.
Judy Huth’s attorney, Nathan Goldberg urged jurors to hold Cosby financially responsible for sexually molesting a Huth, who was 16-year-old at the time, reports ‘Variety’.
Goldberg argued that Cosby should be forced to pay millions of dollars for the assault on Huth, who is now 64. “He hasn’t paid for what he did. He’s gotten away with it,” Goldberg argued. “It’s your job to hold him accountable.”
According to ‘Variety’, the 12-person jury is scheduled to begin deliberating on Thursday in Santa Monica Superior Court. Huth filed the suit in 2014, but her case was delayed for several years by Cosby’s criminal proceedings. The 84-year-old comedian was freed last year after serving nearly three years in prison, when his conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
In her closing argument, Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, alluded to the slew of other allegations that have been made against him. But she urged the jurors to set that aside and focus on Huth’s credibility, arguing that Huth simply had failed to prove her case. Cosby did not attend the trial, and jurors saw only a brief glimpse of him in portions of a videotaped deposition.
‘Variety’ further states that the case instead focused on the accounts of Huth, her friend Donna Samuelson, who accompanied her to the mansion, and two supporting witnesses, Marjorie Shapiro and Kimberly Burr, who testified about their own sexual assault allegations against Cosby from the same time period.
Huth and Samuelson testified that Cosby brought them to the mansion after a chance encounter at a park. Huth alleged that Cosby lured her to a bedroom, and then tried to force himself on her. When she resisted, saying she was on her period, he then pulled down his sweatpants and forced her to masturbate him, she testified.
In her argument, Bonjean argued that Huth had shaped her story in hopes of scoring a financial windfall. She also maintained that the plaintiffs had not proven that Cosby knew at the time of the incident that Huth and her friend were underage – a key element of the offence.
“These are young women that didn’t present as children or even young teenagers,” Bonjean said, showing photos from the time. “They looked like a lot of other young women at the Playboy Mansion.”
Goldberg countered that Samuelson had recalled Cosby telling them both at the mansion that if anyone asked, they should say they were both 18 – suggesting he knew that they were not. Goldberg also showed the jury a photo of Huth from 1975 in which she appeared quite young, as well as two photos of Cosby with Huth at the mansion.
The two lawyers sniped at each other at several points during closing arguments. Earlier in the day, jurors saw a videotaped deposition of Hugh Hefner from 2016, taken about a year before he died. Hefner, the last witness of the case, testified that he was close friends with Cosby in the 1970s, and he never saw Cosby with underage girls at the mansion. He was also asked if minors were ever allowed at the mansion.
“That would be very unusual,” Hefner had then said.
Nine of the 12 jurors must agree to reach a verdict. The plaintiffs must prove their case by a “preponderance” of the evidence – not the higher “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal court.
Goldberg suggested they should award $1 million to $2 million of damages for each of four years of emotional suffering – or $4 million to $8 million total – though he said it would be up to the jurors to decide what is fair.