Judge denies Bill Cosby a new trial in sexual-assault civil lawsuit

Bill Cosby was denied a new trial in a civil lawsuit in which a jury found that he sexually abused Judy Huth when she was a teenager in 1975. In June, she was awarded $500,000 in damages.

In his ruling, Santa Monica Superior Court Judge Craig D. Karlan explained why Cosby’s appeal was denied, writing that the actor “has failed to establish he received an unfair trial or that insufficient evidence existed to establish his liability for plaintiff’s harm.”

Karlan further noted that Huth’s lawyers were able to provide evidence that Cosby “intended to engage in sexual contact’ with her, even though he knew she was a minor at the time.

Huth, now a Riverside County resident, said in her June trial that 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 was 16 at the time.

Huth first brought her civil suit against Cosby in 2014, but it was long delayed while the comedian was tried in Pennsylvania on an unrelated sexual-assault allegation. He was found guilty in that case and sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison. But after his conviction in that case was overturned in 2021, momentum in Huth’s case picked back up.

Huth told the Santa Monica jury in June that Cosby tried to put his hands down her pants, but she lied and said she was on her period to get him to stop. Instead, she said, he forced her hand onto his erect penis, masturbating himself until he climaxed.

“I had my eyes closed at that point,” Huth said in court. “I was freaking out.”

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In her lawsuit, Huth contended that the assault caused her psychological distress in the form of anxiety attacks and flashbacks that began in 2014 and continued until 2018 — when Cosby was convicted in Pennsylvania and sent to prison.

She said her mind always went back to the Cosby incident, especially once other women began accusing him of similar behavior.

“It’s like a movie that just kept going and going, and I couldn’t change the channel,” she said.

The former comedian didn’t appear in court during the Santa Monica trial, and because it was a civil trial rather than criminal, he did not face any potential prison time.

Cosby has continued to claim innocence in Huth’s case and has denied the allegations from all of the women (about 60 in total) who have accused him of rape and sexual assault, among other alleged crimes.

“I want to thank all of the women who spoke out over the years, and refused to be silent in the face of what they believed to be injustice and sexual abuse by powerful men,” Gloria Allred, one of Huth’s lawyers, said in a June statement to The Times. “The late United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, ‘Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.’ Today our client, Judy Huth, won real change because she fought Bill Cosby one step at a time over 7½ years, and she proved with the jury’s verdict that Mr. Cosby did sexually assault her when she was a minor, and that he should be held accountable for what he did to her.”

Immediately after the jury’s June 21 decision, Cosby’s spokesman Andrew Wyatt expressed pleasure with the ruling because his client would not have to pay punitive damages. He said the actor’s legal team planned to appeal.

“Yesterday actor & comedian Bill Cosby was awarded an astonishing victory by jurors in a civil trial brought by Judy Huth,” Wyatt said in a June email to The Times. “The jurors decided to grant Judy Huth with a $500,000.00 verdict but voted 9-3 in favor of not rewarding Ms. Huth any punitive damages.

“Within a few weeks, Attorney Jennifer Bonjean will be in Judge Craig D. Karlan court to appeal the $500,000 verdict, which means that Ms. Huth will never receive a payday from Mr. Cosby.”

City News Service and Times staff writers Christi Carras and Kenan Draughorne contributed to this report.

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