Bill Cosby on trial for sexual assault: Courtroom updates



The latest sexual assault trial against Bill Cosby began Wednesday with opening statements in Santa Monica.

Judy Huth, 64, has accused the disgraced comedian, 84, of assaulting her at the Playboy Mansion when she was a teenager in the mid-1970s. Both sides were scheduled to present their opening statements ahead of testimony, nearly eight years after Huth, in December 2014, first accused Cosby of sexual assault.

The proceedings got off to a rocky start Wednesday morning, with the judge calling the court to order nearly 40 minutes late. Almost immediately, however, he sent the jury out of the room, apologizing while informing them that Cosby’s legal team had raised several issues they needed to discuss privately.

After the jury departed, Jennifer Bonjean, Cosby’s lead attorney, brought up a number of new updates since the jury selection. Bonjean said Huth’s father had not yet responded to a subpoena.

She also said they had received “fascinating” documents from the Playboy Mansion about Huth’s account, along with a late-night discovery from her legal team. (Huth initially alleged the assault happened in 1974 — when she was 15 — but later amended her account to say it happened in 1975.)

Judge Craig D. Karlan wasn’t moved, and Huth’s attorney, Nathan Goldberg, didn’t find fault with any of Bonjean’s suggestions — although he did object to Bonjean jokingly sending him a video of Cosby appearing in a Muppets 20th-anniversary TV special, which had apparently gone over Goldberg’s head.

“Did you say Muppets?” Judge Karlan asked, drawing a laugh from the room.

Opening statements finally got underway around 10:45 a.m., with Goldberg giving a play-by-play of Huth’s timeline of alleged events.

“By 1975, Bill Cosby was a celebrity and a star,” Goldberg said. “In 1975, Judy Huth was a high school student. She was 16 years old. The odds of their worlds colliding were slight to none.”

After describing the alleged assault, Goldberg compared it to allegations raised by two other women who are scheduled to testify. They said Cosby had attacked them in a similar manner.

“He is a planner, he plans all this,” Goldberg said. “Why is he hanging out with these kids?”

In her opening statement for the defense, Bonjean told the jury that Huth’s allegations “are a half-century old.”

“But it is the plaintiff who waited 40 years to press charges,” she added. “You don’t reduce the burden of proof.”

The proceedings will not be shown on TV or available to stream, as Judge Karlan said he will not allow cameras or recording devices in the courtroom (although he may permit filming of closing statements).

Cosby was previously convicted of sexual assault in an unrelated case in 2018. However, the ruling was overturned last year due to a “non-prosecution” agreement the actor-comedian had made with a former district attorney in 2014. He was released from prison on June 30, 2021.

Huth, a Riverside County resident, said she met Cosby around 1975 while he was filming a movie in San Marino. Huth alleged Cosby invited her and a friend to a tennis club, where he gave them drinks, before taking them to the Playboy Mansion and telling them to say they were 19 if anyone asked.

Huth alleged that after she used the bathroom, she opened the door to find Cosby sitting on the bed. She said he then tried to put his hand down her pants and grabbed her hand and made her perform a sexual act on him.

Cosby has claimed innocence in this case and denied the allegations from all women (about 60 in total) who have accused him of rape and sexual assault, among other alleged crimes.

The former “Cosby Show” star will not testify and likely will not appear in court. However, the judge ordered Huth and another witness to take the stand, after Cosby’s team raised questions about her changes in the timeline of alleged events.

The trial is expected to last seven to 10 days, after which jury deliberations will begin. Huth is seeking unspecified damages, and because this is a civil trial rather than criminal, Cosby will not go back to prison even if he’s found guilty.





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