On Tuesday, a Santa Monica civil trial jury found Bill Cosby guilty of sexually abusing a teenage girl at the Playboy Mansion in 1975 and awarded her $500,000.
After the jury was deadlocked earlier in the afternoon, the panel’s decision in favor of Judy Huth was read around 3:30 p.m. local time. Huth, now 64, claimed Bill Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the mansion when she was only 16 years old.
The 84-year-old reviled former icon, dubbed “America’s Dad,” did not testify or appear in Los Angeles County Court during the trial, but he denied sexual contact with Huth in a sworn deposition in 2015, which jurors heard.
Bill Cosby’s spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt, said that the comedian intends to appeal the $500,000 judgment.
“Mr. Cosby continues to maintain his innocence and will vigorously fight these false accusations so that he can get back to bringing the pursuit of happiness, joy, and laughter to the world,” Wyatt said in a statement
The trial seemed to be wrapping up on Friday, with jurors answering eight of nine questions presented to them. However, because the judge had previously agreed to dismiss one of the jurors by June 17, deliberations resumed on Monday with an alternate juror.
The decision concludes an often bizarre trial that included 10 days of testimony, heated exchanges between Judy Huth and Bill Cosby’s attorneys, and a failed attempt by the actor’s legal team to declare a mistrial. The former Cosby Show star has been accused of drugging and sexual assault by several women, but Judy Huth’s case is the first civil trial based on the allegations.
Bill Cosby was convicted of assaulting Andrea Constand in Pennsylvania criminal court, but he was released from prison last year after the state’s highest court ruled that a plea bargain with prosecutors meant he should never have faced criminal trial.
Judy Huth filed her lawsuit in 2014. She stated that she first met Bill Cosby in April 1975, when he was filming a movie in San Marino, California. Some days later, he invited her and her friend, Donna Samuelson to the Playboy Mansion where he gave them a tour of the place and the game room.
Donna Samuelson, who was 17 at the time took photos of Cosby and Huth that evening and was also a witness at the trial.
Huth claimed in the lawsuit that Bill Cosby forced her into a bedroom in the Playboy Mansion, kissed her, shoved his hands down her pants, and then performed a sex act with the use of her hand.
According to Huth’s and a witness’ testimony, the assault occurred next to a game room where the witness was playing the arcade game “Donkey Kong.” Cosby’s attorney seized on this, pointing out that “Donkey Kong” didn’t come out until 1981, six years after the alleged assault, but Huth’s legal team argued that the testimony described “games like ‘Donkey Kong,” not the game itself.
The argument in the courtroom had Bill Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, and Judy Huth’s lawyer, Nathan Goldberg in a sparring match. Bonjean also requested a mistrial after a photo was taken of a juror standing next to another Cosby accuser, Los Angeles artist Lily Bernard.
But Judge Craig Karlan stated that there was no evidence that the jury discussed the case with anyone. The jurors, as well as Lily Bernard, who is suing Cosby in New Jersey, denied any contact as well.
“I would never do anything to jeopardize this case,” Bernard told the judge in the Santa Monica courtroom. “I don’t even look at them.”
During closing arguments, Bonjean urged jurors to focus solely on the evidence in the case, despite the widely publicized allegations against Cosby. “Can you imagine how hard it is to defend a case when you start with the label of sexual predator?” Bonjean said.
Cosby, according to Nathan Goldberg, deserved to be held accountable. “Each of you knows in your heart that Mr. Cosby sexually assaulted Miss Huth,” he stated.
Outside the Santa Monica courthouse, Judy Huth celebrated the conclusion of her years-long legal battle. She described her reaction to the verdict to reporters saying, “I was elated, seriously, it’s been so many years, so many tears, just a long time coming.”