Bill Cosby is being sued by Judy Huth in civil court in Los Angeles. The trial started Wednesday after a jury was selected last week.
Ms. Huth has accused Mr. Cosby, 84, of sexually assaulting her as a teenager and sued him in 2014. But the civil suit was largely put on hold while Mr. Cosby was being criminally prosecuted in another case where he was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.
Mr. Cosby’s criminal conviction in the Constand case in Pennsylvania was overturned last year by an appellate court, and he was freed from prison.
Ms. Huth’s case is being followed by some of the many women who have accused Mr. Cosby of sexual misconduct, in part because it is the first civil case accusing Mr. Cosby of sexual assault to reach trial.
Mr. Cosby has denied sexually abusing Ms. Huth and the other women who have made that accusation against him, suggesting any sexual encounters were consensual.
What does Ms. Huth say happened?
In court papers, Ms. Huth says that she and a friend met Mr. Cosby in 1975 when they wandered onto a movie set in a park in San Marino, Calif., where Mr. Cosby was shooting a film.
Days later, at his invitation, they went to his tennis club, she says in court papers, where he gave her and her friend alcohol before taking them to the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. There, Ms. Huth says in her lawsuit, he forced her to perform a sex act on him in a bedroom. She says Mr. Cosby tried to put his hand down her pants and then forced her to fondle him.
What does Mr. Cosby say?
Mr. Cosby acknowledges meeting with Ms. Huth at the Playboy Mansion but denies her allegation of sexual battery and has challenged her contention that she was a minor at the time.
His lawyers have pointed out in court proceedings that Ms. Huth’s recollection regarding when the encounter occurred has changed. She initially said that it had happened in 1974, when she was 15. But more recently she concluded that it was actually in 1975, when she was 16, according to court papers. The law in California, then and now, holds that a 16-year-old is classified as a minor, but Mr. Cosby has contended that he did not meet Ms. Huth until several years later.
Why is this a civil trial?
In 2014, when she filed the civil case, Ms. Huth also reported her accusation to the police. But the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges because the statute of limitations had passed.
Ms. Huth was able to file a lawsuit because under California law, in some cases, the statute of limitations can be extended for adults who contend they were victims of sexual abuse as children but repressed the experience.
In 2020, California law was amended to further extend the statute of limitations for sexual assault filings in civil court.
Is Mr. Cosby facing other civil suits?
The civil case is one of the last unsettled lawsuits against Mr. Cosby.
He has already faced multiple other civil cases filed against him by women, many of whom sued him for defamation after his legal team dismissed as fictions their accusations of sexual misconduct by him. Eleven civil cases ended in settlements, with 10 of the settlements having been agreed to by Mr. Cosby’s former insurance company over his objections, according to his spokesman.
Mr. Cosby also settled a civil case Ms. Constand brought against him in 2006 for $3.4 million.
One other ongoing civil case was filed last year by Lili Bernard, an actor and visual artist, who accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting her at a hotel in Atlantic City in 1990, when she was 26. Mr. Cosby has denied her account. The Bernard case is still in its early stages.
Why was Mr. Cosby released from prison?
Mr. Cosby was found guilty in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting another woman, Andrea Constand, at his home near Philadelphia and was given a three to 10 year sentence in state prison.
But that conviction was overturned last year on due process grounds. An appeals court ruled that a “non-prosecution agreement” with a previous prosecutor meant that Mr. Cosby should not have been charged in the case.
How does this civil case differ from the criminal case?
In this civil case in Los Angeles Superior Court, the burden of proof is lower than in a criminal trial. It will be in front of a 12-person jury, with at least nine of 12 votes needed for a verdict. It is expected to last seven to 10 days. Ms. Huth is seeking damages.
Mr. Cosby has invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and will not testify and will not attend the trial, his spokesman has said. Ms. Huth is expected to testify, as is the friend who she has said accompanied her to the Playboy Mansion in 1975.