- Jury selection will begin Monday at the Santa Monica courthouse for the trial of Huth vs Cosby.
- Bill Cosby was freed from a state prison where he was nearly three years into a 10-year sentence after the conviction was overturned on constitutional grounds by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last year.
Nearly 50 years after an alleged encounter at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, Judy Huth’s civil lawsuit against Bill Cosby – accusing him of groping her when she was a teen – is going forward to trial next week, a judge ruled Tuesday according to lawyers in the case.
Jury selection will begin Monday at the Santa Monica courthouse for the trial of Huth vs Cosby, with the trial starting as soon as a jury is picked. Cosby, 84, was not in court.
Huth, 64, is suing Cosby for sexual battery. She filed the suit in 2014 alleging she was groped by the comedian/TV star in 1974 when she was 15 and visiting the Playboy Mansion, where Cosby was a frequent visitor. Cosby has denied her allegations.
Huth filed the lawsuit soon after Cosby became the target of five dozen allegations from women who accused him of drugging and raping them in encounters dating back to the mid-1960s.
But the lawsuit (and other similar civil suits against Cosby) was put on hold after he was arrested in Pennsylvania on sex-crime charges in 2015. Following two criminal trials, he was convicted in 2018 on charges involving one accuser and dating to 2004.
That conviction was subsequently overturned on constitutional grounds by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last summer, freeing Cosby from a state prison where he was nearly three years into a 10-year sentence. In the wake of that decision, which shocked Cosby’s accusers and prosecutors, Huth’s lawsuit was revived in California.
The ruling Tuesday was a defeat for Cosby and his lawyers, who sought to have Huth’s lawsuit dismissed or delayed on grounds that Huth had recently changed her story: Now, according to documents filed by Cosby’s legal team, she says she was not 15 and the alleged encounter didn’t happen in 1974.
“Plaintiff has a whole new story now: she claims that the incident happened in February and/or March 1975 – shortly before her 17th birthday,” according to a motion filed last week by Cosby’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean.
Bonjean argued in her motion and to the judge that Huth’s changed story damages Cosby’s ability to defend against new alleged facts with just a week left before trial.
Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan declined to either dismiss or delay the case, and he declined to rule immediately on the motion, according to Bonjean.
But in response to the Cosby team’s concerns about the changes in details about the alleged encounter, he ordered Huth and a witness in the case to be deposed again, Bonjean said.
Gloria Allred, who represents Huth and dozens of other accusers of Cosby over the years, confirmed to USA TODAY that the trial will go forward starting Monday, but had no other comment other than, “We are looking forward to the trial.”
Bonjean also declined to comment beyond confirming the judge’s ruling and her authority to depose Huth again.
Bonjean has represented Cosby since he filed his appeal of his criminal conviction in Pennsylvania. She wrote the brief and argued for Cosby at the high court hearing in December 2020, which led to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturning Cosby’s conviction six months later.
Huth’s lawsuit is the last civil suit in a state court that Cosby faces; at one time, there were seven such suits, which were either settled out of court with Cosby’s insurer (over his objections) dismissed or dropped.
One lawsuit remains, in federal court in New Jersey. In October 2021, after Cosby’s conviction was overturned, accuser Lili Bernard filed the suit alleging sexual assault and battery and false imprisonment among other claims. She says in the suit that Cosby drugged and raped her in 1990 in Atlantic City after luring her there by offering to mentor her and to help her acting career.
Cosby has denied Bernard’s allegations. In 2015, state prosecutors in Atlantic City declined to charge Cosby with a crime in connection with her allegations, citing the state’s statute of limitations.
An artist and former actress who met Cosby on “The Cosby Show,” Bernard is one of the most public of Cosby accusers; she has appeared frequently in the media to describe her allegations and has been represented by Allred, a longtime Cosby legal foe who has hosted multiple press conferences over the years to introduce Cosby accusers. Bernard also attended Cosby’s 2018 trial in Montgomery County outside Philadelphia, and appeared in W. Kamau Bell’s four-part Showtime docuseries “We Need to Talk About Cosby.”