Cosby liable on fresh sex assault claims, jury finds



A US jury has found comedian Bill Cosby liable in a civil case brought by a woman who claimed he sexually assaulted her as a teenager in the 1970s.

The Los Angeles jury of eight women and four men, awarded Huth $US500,000 ($718,000) in damages on Wednesday (Australian time). No punitive compensation was awarded.

The complaint was filed by Judy Huth, who said Cosby forced her to perform a sex act at the Playboy Mansion in 1975, when she was 16 and he was 37.

Cosby, now 84, had denied the allegation.

When Ms Huth filed the lawsuit in December 2014, she said Cosby took her hand and performed a sexual act with it in a bedroom at the mansion in 1974. Weeks before the trial, she said she had been mistaken about the date and now believed it was 1975 – leading to an argument about her credibility from Cosby’s lawyers.

“I don’t think you can believe anything Ms Huth says, frankly,” his lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, told jurors in California Superior Court last week.

Ms Bonjean argued Ms Huth and a friend who accompanied her to the mansion had come up with a story together to get money from Cosby. The friend also had initially said the date was 1974.

Ms Huth’s lawyer Nathan Goldberg asked jurors to hold Cosby “fully accountable”.

Ms Huth sought damages for emotional distress she said she suffered from 2014, when allegations against Cosby were prevalent in the news, and 2018 when he was sentenced to prison for sexual assault in Pennsylvania.

“Four years of misery. What is that worth to someone? $1 million a year? $2 million a year?” Mr Goldberg said.

Cosby did not appear in person at the trial, but jurors were shown a 10-minute video of him answering questions from one of Ms Huth’s lawyers during a deposition in 2015.

While Cosby said he did not remember Ms Huth, he said the incident could not have happened because he would not have pursued sexual contact with someone who was 15.

The trial came 11 months after Cosby was freed from prison when Pennsylvania’s highest court threw out his sexual assault conviction in a different case.

Cosby is best known for his role as the loveable husband and father in the 1980s television comedy series The Cosby Show.

But his family-friendly reputation was shattered after more than 50 women accused him of sexual assaults over nearly five decades.

-with agencies

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