Armed with his growing celebrity and a “sense of invincibility,” Bill Cosby sexually assaulted three teenagers in a string of attacks in 1975 using a “common plan” and clear “intent,” lawyer Nathan Goldberg told jurors Wednesday during opening statements in the long-awaited trial involving accuser Judy Huth. Huth claimed that Cosby forced her into a sex act at the Playboy Mansion when she was 16 years old nearly 50 years ago.
Cosby, 84, is only facing civil liability for Huth’s claims, but Goldberg told a jury of eight women and four men gathered in a courtroom in Santa Monica, Calif., that they would hear testimony from all three women.
One of the women has never spoken publicly about her allegation before, a source tells Rolling Stone. She claims she met Cosby at a tennis tournament in Palm Springs in March 1975 when she was 14 years old and was invited to visit the set of his movie Let’s Do It Again with her family, Goldberg said. With her mother and other relatives joining her at the set in downtown Los Angeles, the woman, then a freshman in high school, felt comfortable following Cosby into his trailer when he asked for help adjusting his bow tie, Goldberg said.
“She walks in, and immediately he pounces. The same that he did with Ms. Huth,” Goldberg said. “He grabs her with both his hands and starts slobbering all over her, on her mouth, sticking his tongue down her throat. And she is smelling his cigar breath. She’s trying to push herself out of this embrace and eventually manages to get away.”
Goldberg told jurors they also would hear from Margie Shapiro, an accuser who stepped forward in 2015 with allegations Cosby drugged and raped her at the Playboy mansion in November 1975 after meeting her at the donut shop where she worked and inviting her to the set of his movie Mother, Jugs and Speed. Shapiro claimed that Cosby invited her to a cast dinner that never materialized and took her to meet his “good friend” Hugh Hefner instead. She was 19 at the time.
In the case of Huth, Goldberg said jurors would hear her story from her direct testimony on the witness stand and testimony from her friend Donna Samuelson, who was with her the day of her alleged battery. He said both women would describe meeting Cosby for the first time while he was filming Let’s Do It Again in Lacy Park in San Marino, California, meeting up with him again the following Saturday at a tennis club in Hollywood, following him to a nearby house where they played a drinking game over billiards and accompanying him to the Playboy Mansion.
Huth, 64, first sued Cosby in December 2014 with claims Cosby isolated her in a bedroom at Hefner’s mansion, kissed her on the mouth, slid his hand down her pants and used her hand to perform a sex act on him.
Goldberg said Wednesday that his client immediately reported what happened to Samuelson but was so humiliated and confused by the incident, she decided to bury it for decades. He urged jurors to connect the dots between the women’s accounts and determine Cosby had “a sense of entitlement” and “no fear” when he allegedly assaulted the women using similar tactics.
Cosby’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, was due to give her opening statement Wednesday afternoon.
Huth’s complaint was put on hold by Cosby’s two back-to-back Pennsylvania criminal trials related to former Temple University staffer Andrea Constand alongside the pandemic. The civil case resumed last year after Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Cosby’s conviction in the Constand case and he walked out of prison a free man.
While Huth initially believed the Lacy Park meeting was in late 1973 or early 1974, when she was 15 years old, she revised her timeline last month after reviewing new evidence provided by Cosby, her lawyer John West says. She now alleges the assault took place in either February or March of 1975, when she was 16 years old.
While Cosby’s camp argued the revision to Huth’s timeline amounted to an “ambush” on the eve of trial and warranted an outright dismissal of the case, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig D. Karlan kept the case on track but ordered Huth to sit for another hour of deposition questioning.
“We believe that Mr. Cosby will fully be exonerated once the jurors hear the evidence as well as examine the many inconsistent accounts given by Ms. Huth,” Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, said in a Wednesday morning statement.
Cosby has no plans to attend the trial in person and believes jurors will understand given his age, blindness from glaucoma and vulnerability amid rising Covid infections, Wyatt recently told Rolling Stone.
Once an A-list star dubbed “America’s Dad,” Cosby has been accused by scores of women of a long list of misdeeds ranging from sexual harassment to battery to rape. Many of his accusers stepped forward for the first time in 2014 with allegations that were too old to prosecute. Cosby denied the allegations and protested when civil lawsuits were settled with women against by his insurer.
Beyond Huth’s case playing out now in Santa Monica, Calif., the disgraced comedian is being sued by actress and visual artist Lili Bernard in federal court in New Jersey. Bernard claims Cosby drugged and raped her at the Trump Taj Mahal casino resort in Atlantic City around August 1990 after they met on the set of The Cosby Show and he offered to help advance her career. A judge has not yet ruled on Cosby’s motion to dismiss the case.
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