Bill Cosby found guilty of sexually assaulting teen at Playboy Mansion

  • A California jury in a civil case ruled on Tuesday that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted a woman at the Playboy Mansion in 1975 when she was a teenager.
  • The comedian was ordered to pay $500,000 in damages for emotional distress from the incident.
  • Judy Huth had testified that the comedian invited her and a friend to the mansion when she was 16, and he was 37, and forced her to perform a sexual act.

A California jury in a civil case ruled Tuesday that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted a woman at the Playboy Mansion in 1975 when she was a teenager, and ordered the comedian to pay her $500,000 in damages for emotional stress from the incident.

Judy Huth had testified that the comedian invited her and a friend to the mansion when she was 16, and he was 37, and forced her to perform a sexual act.

The verdict came nearly a year after Cosby was released from prison when Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned his conviction for assault in another criminal case there.

Huth’s lawsuit was the first civil suit against Cosby to go to trial.

Huth, now 64, said she was “elated” by the ruling in the case, which she filed in 2014 after the media reported detailed allegations against Cosby by multiple women. Those reports helped bring back memories of her meeting with Cosby, Huth said, and triggered four years of anxiety and other symptoms.

“It’s been so many years, so many tears,” Huth told reporters outside the California Superior Court in Santa Monica. “It’s been a while.”

Huth told the jury that Cosby invited her and the boyfriend to the mansion a few days after meeting the then-famous actor and comedian in a public park. After coming out of a bathroom, Cosby took her hand and used it to masturbate his penis, she said.

Cosby, who did not appear in person at the trial, denied Huth’s claim. His defense team will appeal the verdict, Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said.

“Mr. Cosby continues to maintain his innocence and will fight vigorously against these false accusations so that he can resume the pursuit of happiness, joy and laughter in the world,” Wyatt said in a statement.

Cosby, 84, is best known for his role as the loving husband and father on the 1980s television comedy series. The Cosby Show, which earned him the nickname “America’s Dad”. But his family-friendly reputation was shattered after more than 50 women accused him of sexual assault for nearly five decades.

Huth brought the case under a California law that allows people who claim to have been abused as children to take civil suits years later as adults.

Three other women who have accused Cosby of abuse attended the trial and told reporters they felt justified by the verdict. Lili Bernard, who has a civil lawsuit against Cosby in New Jersey, said the ruling is “important for any sexual assault survivor who has not been given justice.”

“We will never give up,” she said.

The jury did not rule entirely in Huth’s favour. By a vote of 9-3, they said they had not provided “clear and convincing evidence” that Cosby had acted with “malice, oppression or fraud”.

If the jurors voted yes to that question, they could have awarded Huth additional punitive damages.

In a video of testimony shown to jurors, Cosby said he did not remember Huth. But he said the incident could not have happened because he would not have had sexual contact with anyone under the age of 18 at the time.

Cosby attorney Jennifer Bonjean challenged Huth’s account at trial, including her revised timeline.

When the lawsuit was filed in December 2014, Huth said the incident happened in 1974, when she was 15. She told the judges that she recently concluded that she had made a mistake about the year and now believes it happened in 1975.