SANTA MONICA, California (NYTIMES) - A jury has found that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted Judy Huth in 1975, when as a 16-year-old she accepted his invitation to join him at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
The jury's decision on Tuesday (June 21) once again tarnished the reputation of a man whose standing as one of America's most beloved entertainers dissolved as dozens of women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct.
As part of its decision, the jury awarded Huth US$500,000 in compensatory damages but declined to award punitive damages.
Beyond its significance to Huth, who first came forward with her accusations in 2014, the verdict offered a degree of satisfaction for many of the women who for years have accused Cosby of similar abuse. The Huth case, for them, offered a second chance at getting public vindication of their accounts after Cosby's criminal conviction in the Andrea Constand case was overturned by an appellate panel last year on due process grounds.
Many of the accusers had been barred from filing suits because they had not come forward at the time when they said Cosby had attacked them. But Huth's suit was able to move forward because the jury agreed she was a minor at the time, and California law extends the time frame in which people molested as children can file a civil claim.
After the verdict was announced, and the jury dismissed, Huth hugged her lawyers.
"I feel good. I feel vindicated." Huth said.
The verdict was a damaging setback for Cosby who, upon his release after serving nearly three years in prison, had promoted the appeals court decision as a full exoneration, an overstatement now overshadowed by a finding that reinforces an image of him as a person who wielded his celebrity to take advantage of women.
Cosby has consistently denied the accounts of all of the women, asserting that if he had sexual encounters with anyone it had always been consensual. He invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and did not attend the trial. But parts of his deposition, which was videotaped several years ago, were played for the jurors, and they heard him say he had no recollection of ever meeting Huth.
The 12-person jury was not unanimous in its findings and voted 9-3 to award Huth the compensatory damages. After the jury was dismissed, one juror, Aldo Reyna, 25, explained why he decided in her favor.
"Given the t...