Elizabeth Wagmeister, Variety, June 21, 2022
The verdict ruled in Huth’s favor, which her attorney, Gloria Allred, hailed as a win toward “real change,” although no punitive compensation was awarded.
Huth, now 64, accused Cosby of luring her and a friend to the mansion a few days after meeting them in a park. She alleged that Cosby got her alone in a bedroom, pulled down his sweatpants and then grabbed her hand and used it to masturbate himself, forcing her into a sexual act.
Allred noted that the case marks the first to go to trial under the Child Victims Act, which protects adult survivors of child sex abuse to come forward and hold their abuser accountable years later. “She or he may come forward years later, and they will have a right to do so,” the attorney and women’s rights activist said outside court.
Cosby’s team appeared to be pleased with the outcome. When the verdict was read with no punitive damages found, Cosby’s spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt, smiled in the gallery and his lawyers were gleeful as they exited the courtroom.
In a statement issued to the media, following the verdict, Cosby’s spokesperson said, in part, “We have always maintained that Judy Huth, Gloria Allred and their cohorts fabricated these false accusations, in order to force Mr. Cosby to finance their racist mission against successful and accomplished Black Men in America.” The statement continued, “Mr. Cosby continues to maintain his innocence and will vigorously fight these false accusations, so that he can get back to bringing the pursuit of happiness, joy and laughter to the world.”
The jury found that Cosby did intend to cause a harmful or offensive contact with Huth and that “sexually offensive contact” resulted, while also finding that Hugh was “harmed” by Cosby’s conduct. The jury concluded that any “normal person, without hesitation” would have been “disturbed, irritated, offended or injured” by Cosby’s conduct. Nine jurors voted that they agreed that Cosby’s conduct was motivated by an “unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in a minor,” while three jurors did not agree.
The trial centered on the testimony of Huth and her friend, Donna Samuelson, as well as two other women who alleged that Cosby had also sexually assaulted them in 1975.
The jury had trouble reaching an agreement over the question on the special verdict form, asking whether Cosby acted with “malice, oppression or fraud,” which would trigger punitive damages. (Ultimately, they voted 9-3 that Cosby’s conduct did not rise to the level of awarding any punitive damages, and 9-3 that the damages awarded to Huth should be $500,000.)
Huth filed her lawsuit in December 2014, as many other women were coming forward with allegations against Cosby. The suit was postponed for several years, while Cosby faced two criminal trials for sexual assault in Pennsylvania. Cosby’s criminal conviction was overturned last year, and he was freed after serving nearly three years in state prison.