On Tuesday, a jury in Santa Monica found Bill Cosby liable for sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy Mansion in the 1970s and ordered him to pay $500,000.
But to hear Cosby’s team tell it, the decision was an “astonishing victory” for the 84-year-old actor.
Judy Huth first brought her civil suit against Cosby in 2014, but it was long delayed while the comedian was tried in Pennsylvania on an unrelated sexual assault allegation. After his conviction in that case was overturned in 2021, however, momentum in Huth’s case picked back up.
In court, Huth accused Cosby of giving her alcohol and taking her to the Playboy Mansion in 1975, when she was a teenager. Huth said Cosby, who was in his late 30s at the time, attempted to put his hand down her pants. After she said she was on her period, she said, he put her hand on his erect penis and masturbated.
After a three-week trial that began on June 1, the jury ruled in Huth’s favor Tuesday and said Cosby will have to pay her $500,000. However, Cosby’s spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt, rejoiced in the fact that his client will not have to pay punitive damages and said Cosby’s legal team plans to appeal.
“Yesterday actor & comedian Bill Cosby was awarded an astonishing victory by jurors in a civil trial brought by Judy Huth,” Wyatt said Wednesday in an email to The Times. “The jurors decided to grant Judy Huth with a $500,000.00 verdict but voted 9-3 in favor of not rewarding Ms. Huth any punitive damages.
“Within a few weeks, Attorney Jennifer Bonjean will be in Judge Craig D. Karlan court to appeal the $500,000 verdict, which means that Ms. Huth will never receive a payday from Mr. Cosby… ”
Cosby will not face jail time because Huth filed a civil suit, rather than a criminal one.
“If the jurors had awarded punitive damages to Judy Huth it would have been in the range of $10 million plus dollars, which would have been a devastating loss to our legal efforts and the Cosby family,” Wyatt said. “After the verdict was read and judges were released, Mr. Cosby spoke briefly with [two jurors] and they both stated, ‘You didn’t deserve to be in this court but we enjoyed watching Attorney Bonjean representing you. It was [an] honor to not award the plaintiff with any punitive damages and it’s a pleasure to hear your voice.’
“Mr. Cosby along with his team has always remained steadfast in his innocence and we never played in the sewer; But most importantly, we stayed on the mountain top of ethics, integrity, truth and facts,” Wyatt continued. “The Cosbys are thankful to those particular jurors who removed their bias and ruled on the evidence and facts of this case.”
On the heels of the jury’s decision against Cosby, and the arrest of director Paul Haggis after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Italy, Women in Film stressed the need to continue the fight against sexual abuse.
“The movement to stand against abuse and assault is not over,” the organization wrote in a statement. “The recent arrest of Paul Haggis reminds us of the very real threat of sexual abuse and harassment that people face every day in this industry. And although a survivor won a judgment against Bill Cosby, Cosby’s attorney perpetuated the idea that survivors are ‘not relevant.’
“When people in positions of power are not held accountable, when victims are questioned, we need to stand up and speak out,” the organization said. “The problem hasn’t gone away — neither has the fight against it. The WIF Help Line [855-WIF-LINE] continues to offer support and provide resources to people of all genders who have experienced sexual harassment or misconduct while working in entertainment.”