Jurors at a civil trial on Tuesday found that Bill Cosby sexually abused a 16-year-old girl in the Playboy Mansion in 1975.
The Los Angeles County Jury has ruled in favor of Judy Huth, now 64, and awarded her $ 500,000.
Jurors found that Cosby intentionally caused harmful sexual contact with Huth, that he reasonably believed she was under 18, and that his behavior was motivated by unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in a minor.
The jury’s decision is a major legal defeat for the 84-year-old entertainer who was once named as the father of America. It comes almost a year after his Pennsylvania criminal conviction for sexual assault was thrown out and he was released from prison. Huth’s trial was one of the last remaining legal claims against him after his insurer settled many others against his will.
Cosby did not appear at the trial or testify in person, but short clips of 2015 video footage were played for jurors, in which he denied any sexual contact with Huth. He denies the allegation by his lawyer and publicist.
Jurors had already reached conclusions on almost every question about their verdict, including whether Cosby abused Huth and whether she deserved damages, after two days of deliberations on Friday.
But the jury chairman could no longer serve because of a personal commitment, and the panel had to consult with a deputy jury member from the beginning on Monday.
Cosby’s lawyers agreed that Cosby met Huth and his high school friend on a movie set in Southern California in April 1975, and took them to the Playboy Mansion a few days later.
Huth’s friend Donna Samuelson, a key witness, took pictures at Huth and Cosby’s mansion, which was large in the process.
Huth testified that Cosby, in a bedroom next to a playroom where the three were hanging out, tried to put his hand down her pants, then exposed her and forced her to perform a sex act.
Huth filed her lawsuit in 2014, saying her son, who turned 15 – the age she initially remembered when she went to the mansion – and a wave of other women who accused Cosby of similar acts, brought new trauma about what she had been through as a teenager.
Huth’s attorney Nathan Goldberg told the jury of nine women and three men on Wednesday during closing arguments that “my client deserves Mr. Cosby to be responsible for what he did.”
“Every one of you knows in your heart that Mr. Cosby sexually assaulted Miss Huth,” Goldberg said.
A majority of the jury members apparently agreed, giving Huth a victory in a suit that lasted eight years and overcame many obstacles just to try.
During their testimony, Cosby attorney Jennifer Bonjean consistently challenged Huth and Samuelson about errors in detail in their stories, and an agreement in the accounts that the attorney said represented coordination between the two women.
This included the women who in preliminary dismissals and police interviews said that Samuelson had played Donkey Kong that day, a game that was only released six years later.
Bonjean made much of this, in what both sides came to call the “Donkey Kong defense.”
Goldberg asked jurors to look past the small mistakes in detail that he said were inevitable in stories that were 45 years old, and focus on the big problems behind the. He reminded jurors that Samuelson said “games like Donkey Kong” when she first mentioned it in her dismissal.
The Cosby lawyer began her closing arguments by saying, “It’s like Donkey Kong,” and ended by declaring, “Play over.”
Huth’s lawyer reacted with disgrace during his resistance.
“This is about justice!” he shouted, bulging on stage. “We do not need game over! We need justice!”
The Associated Press does not normally list people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly, as Huth has.