With less than a week to go before jury selection starts in Judy Huth’s sexual battery case against Bill Cosby, the disgraced comedian’s lawyers made a last-ditch attempt Tuesday to kill her long-delayed California civil case on the grounds that she recently shifted the date of his alleged attack at the Playboy Mansion by an entire year. They did not succeed.
In a new sworn statement submitted under seal two weeks ago and described by Cosby’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean in open court, Huth revised the timeline of her underlying allegation, saying new information caused her to believe Cosby lured her to the Playboy Mansion for the alleged attack in either February or March of 1975, when she was 16 years old.
Huth had previously claimed it was either late 1973 or early 1974 when Cosby used his celebrity status to isolate her in a bedroom inside the home of magazine mogul Hugh Hefner, kiss her on the mouth, slide his hand down her pants and use her hand to perform a sex act on him when she was only 15.
While Bonjean argued Tuesday that the revision to Huth’s timeline amounted to an “ambush” on the eve of trial and warranted an outright dismissal of the case, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig D. Karlan saw a path forward. Instead of spiking or even postponing the trial’s May 23 start date, Judge Karlan ordered Huth to sit for another hour of deposition questioning this week. When Bonjean further argued that the new date “prejudiced” Cosby’s defense because he only received Playboy Mansion visitor logs from 1974, Judge Karlan maintained Cosby’s camp still had time to try to obtain the 1975 records.
Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt attended the Tuesday hearing and said he spoke to Cosby by phone during a break. He said the comedian, who denies any wrongdoing, has no plans to attend the expected seven-day trial that’s due to hold opening statements on June 1. Wyatt said he wasn’t worried jurors will view Cosby’s absence in a negative light.
“Because he is 85 and blind, and because of the Covid numbers, [we believe] they will not look at it that way,” Wyatt tells Rolling Stone. “He’s doing well. He’s excited about getting this over with. He wants to move on. He said a dismissal would have been the right thing to do. But that did not happen, so we will move forward and onward with the truth and the facts. That’s all he wants, the truth and the facts.”
Huth’s lawyers, including Gloria Allred, declined to comment at the courthouse Tuesday. During the hearing, they argued that Huth’s story has remained consistent with a timeline that only changed because she was limited in her ability to obtain records from sources such as Cosby himself.
According to Huth, she and a friend met Cosby for the first time while he was filming the Sidney Poitier movie Let’s Do It Again in Lacy Park in San Marino, California. Huth claims Cosby fed her alcohol at a follow-up meeting a few days later, “as part of a game he proposed,” and then took her to the Playboy Mansion. While Huth initially believed the Lacy Park meeting was in late 1973 or early 1974, she revised her timeline after reviewing new evidence, her lawyer John West said.
“The complaint filed in 2014 says Lacy Park. Mr. Cosby knew when he was in Lacy Park. There is no revelation whatsoever here. He knew it was a mistake. What Ms. Bonjean is upset about is that she can’t spring some devastating cross-examination on [Huth] because she realized she was wrong and corrected herself,” West argued. “All along the defendant knew this was a 1975 matter, so there’s no surprise here.”
Bonjean shot back that Cosby doesn’t accept Huth’s claim that they met at Lacy Park. An undated picture showing Cosby with a full beard as he poses with Huth was taken at the Playboy Mansion. Bonjean said Tuesday that her side believes Huth was no longer a minor in the photo.
A different Huth lawyer, Nathan Goldberg, told Judge Karlan that his client realized her error after Cosby’s camp produced documents in March that helped her piece together her new timeline. Huth’s memory was further jogged, Goldberg said, when she saw a June 1975 magazine cover showing “Rat Pack” actor Peter Lawford and recalled that she had met Lawford at the Playboy Mansion a few months before she saw the cover.
Judge Karlan then asked what would be an “appropriate” remedy to the date change if he denied Cosby’s dismissal motion. Bonjean said an extra hour of deposition questioning for both Huth and her friend would allow her to explore the new timeline before getting in front a jury. The judge then ordered the depositions.
“[Bonjean is] entitled to do her research and figure this out. I don’t think it’s right for you to say she already figured it out,” Judge Karlan told Huth’s lawyers during the hearing. “The issue is your client gave certain statements under oath, and now she’s giving a different one.”
After the hearing, Bonjean claimed she was blindsided by Huth’s new timeline. “It’s not fair. It’s a trial by ambush,” she told a small group of reporters. “We did have a motion to dismiss. We believe that it should have been granted, but we are grateful the judge recognizes there’s been some prejudice and we have to rectify that prejudice. This has to be a fair process.”
In an email Tuesday afternoon, Allred wrote simply, “We are looking forward to the trial.”
Huth, 64, first sued Cosby on Dec. 2, 2014, but her complaint was put on hold by Cosby’s two back-to-back criminal trials related to Andrea Constand in Pennsylvania, plus the subsequent Covid pandemic. The case resumed last year after Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Cosby’s conviction in the Constand case and he walked out of prison a free man.
In its stunning decision, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court said Cosby’s right to due process was violated because Montgomery County prosecutors had promised he would not face charges. Relying on that promise, Cosby gave damaging deposition testimony related to Constand that later was used against him, the court found.
Huth’s suit isn’t the only civil case still pending against the disgraced former TV star. Cosby was sued by actress and visual artist Lili Bernard in federal court in New Jersey last October. Bernard claims Cosby drugged and raped her at the Trump Taj Mahal casino resort in Atlantic City around August 1990 after they met on the set of The Cosby Show and he offered to help advance her career.
Bernard brought the lawsuit after new state legislation offered a two-year “lookback” window to bring sex assault cases regardless of when the abuse allegedly occurred.
Cosby later filed a motion to dismiss Bernard’s case that is pending. He argued that the reform was unconstitutional because it was “retroactively depriving [him] of the defense of the statute of limitations that was in effect at the time of underlying events, a defense that ripened into a vested right.”
Cosby raised a similar objection to a “lookback” window at play in the Huth case. Judge Karlan dismissed the objection on a tentative basis Tuesday, saying a written order would follow.