With jury selection less than a week away, attorneys scrambled to deal with shifting evidence Tuesday incivil lawsuit over allegations that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl at the Playboy Mansion nearly 50 years ago.
Plaintiff Judy Huth said in a recent court filing that she now believes the assault occurred in 1975 when she was 16, not 1974 when she was 15, as she had long alleged, prompting cries of foul play and a motion to dismiss. of the case by Cosby’s attorneys. , who said the change has changed her defense on the eve of trial.
“It’s not fair,” Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said outside court. It’s called an ambush trial.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan gave no indication he planned to dismiss the 8-year-old case just before a trial that is set to start as scheduled Monday, and went ahead with preparations.
Cosby, 85, will not attend any of them, his attorneys said. The case has taken on renewed importance as one of the few remaining legal actions against him after the Pennsylvania Supreme Courtin June and released him from prison, and his insurer settled many other lawsuits against his will.
Huth’s attorneys said the change in his story came after investigation of archival evidence led them to determine the dates Cosby was filming the movie “Let’s Do It Again” in a Los Angeles-area park. , where Huth says that the two met before he took her. to the mansion.
The evidence included a dated photo of Cosby with a beard and a tuxedo looking exactly as Huth remembered him.
The change was revealed in a statement that was attached as an addendum to a May 5 motion. But Bonjean said he should have been given direct notice, telling the judge the move was “subversive.”
One of Huth’s attorneys, Nathan Goldberg, took offense.
“We filed it in court, was that subversive?” Goldberg said.
He suggested that the defense had been hiding the time of the visit to the mansion for a long time.
“They always knew it was 1975,” Goldberg said.
Cosby’s attorneys said they had based much of their defense at trial around the time of the trip to the Playboy Mansion, including going to great lengths to establish Cosby’s whereabouts at that time, and basing their planned questions of Huth on the witness stand around his account of the chronology
Huth’s lawsuit alleges that Cosby forced her to perform a sexual act on him in a bedroom at Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s famed Los Angeles mansion.
Bonjean acknowledges that Cosby met Huth and took her to the mansion – a photograph shows the two there together – but that the visit occurred later when Huth was not a minor and that there was no sexual assault anyway.
Bonjean also said that the changed story also means changes in the relevance of the law to the case, which treats 15- and 16-year-olds differently.
Without dismissing the case or delaying the trial, the judge agreed with Huth’s attorneys that they should have given the defense clear notice of the time change, and ordered Huth and a friend who is corroborating his story to submit new statements. this week.
“It’s extraordinarily difficult to defend against an allegation from 50 years ago. Nobody could do it, innocent, guilty or something in between,” said Bonjean, who also represented Cosby in his criminal case and represents R. Kelly in his child pornography case in Chicago. trial, she said outside court. “You work, you work, you work to create a defense, and then all of a sudden, at the last minute, it’s bait and switch.”
Huth’s attorney, Gloria Allred, declined to comment outside of court.
Cosby made a videotaped statement early in the case but will not be asked to testify at trial.
He will not make the trip to California from his Pennsylvania home because of glaucoma that has left him blind, his representatives said.
But his absence is no indication of how vigorously he intends to fight.
“Mr. Cosby is a guy who has never settled for anything in his life, and he’s not going to settle on this one,” Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, said after the hearing.
The Associated Press does not normally name people who say they have been sexually abused, unless they come forward publicly, as Huth has repeatedly done.
Cosby, the groundbreaking black actor and comedian, had been the first celebrity convicted of sexual assault in the #MeToo era. The jury at his 2018 retrial found him guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting a college sports administrator. However, the conviction was later overturned.
A barrage of sexual abuse allegations of this kind destroyed his image as “America’s dad” and led to multimillion-dollar court settlements with at least eight women.