Appearing visibly shaken with lips trembling, Judy Huth told jurors in a California courtroom Tuesday that Bill Cosby was waiting for her outside a bathroom at the Playboy Mansion in 1975 and beckoned her to a bed by patting the mattress next to where he was sitting. She was 16 years old at the time. Cosby was 37.
“He wanted me to sit down, and I sat down. I was scared,” Huth recalled, publicly describing the alleged attack for the first time since suing Cosby in December 2014. “He tried to lean me back. He was leaning me back, and then he tried to come at me and kiss me. Then he put his hands underneath my belly button where my high pants are, and he tried to put his hands down my pants.”
Huth said she was “shocked” by the alleged ambush and had to think fast. “I was freaking out and told him I was on my period,” she said, adding that it was a lie. “I was trying to deflect from what he was doing to me.”
She said Cosby stood up, pulled his sweatpants down, grabbed her hand and forced it onto his erect penis.
“He jacked himself off with my hand,” Huth testified, quietly sobbing. “Definitely forcefully. It was not what I wanted, at all. I had my eyes closed at that time. I was freaking out.”
Cosby denies the alleged bedroom attack happened, though he concedes he posed for photos with Huth at the mansion. The photos, taken by Huth’s friend Donna Samuelson, are key pieces of evidence at the trial now unfolding in a courtroom in Santa Monica. While the date of the photos has been a subject of great debate, Cosby’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean said in her opening statement that “butler notes” produced by the Playboy Mansion appear to line up with Cosby visiting the residence with Huth and Samuelson. They’re dated April 5, 1975. Huth was a minor at the time, a week away from her 17th birthday.
Now 64, Huth claims she and Samuelson were together days before the alleged attack when they first met Cosby while he was filming the movie Let’s Do It Again at Lacy Park in San Marino, California. She says Cosby invited her and Samuelson to an indoor tennis club in Hollywood the following Saturday, and they were thrilled by the attention from a celebrity. Speaking to jurors at the start of her testimony Monday afternoon, Huth recalled that her dad had one of Cosby’s comedy albums on an 8-track tape.
With a quiet voice barely audible at times, Huth testified that after the tennis club, she and Samuelson accompanied Cosby to a private home, where the comedian presided over a drinking game that involved billiards. She said Cosby later led her and Samuelson to the Playboy Mansion as a “surprise.” She claims they had no idea where they were until shortly after they arrived. She recalled seeing a portrait of Hugh Hefner in the game room.
Though she previously spoke to the National Enquirer in 2005 for a story she says never ran, Huth has remained largely out of the public eye leading up to the trial, living a quiet life as a winery tour guide in Canyon Lake, Calif.
Cosby’s camp wants jurors to focus on the fact that Huth initially got the year of her alleged assault wrong. In her initial complaint, and for the last seven years, she has maintained she was 15 years old, and the year was 1974. She revised her timeline last month, saying she realized her error after reviewing photos of Cosby from 1974 where he didn’t have the same beard. She also googled a magazine cover from 1975 that jogged her memory, she testified.
In her testimony Tuesday, Huth said the alleged attack upended her life, leading her to isolate from friends and smoke too much pot. Eventually, she had to move on, she said. “I dug a hole and buried it,” she testified. While some details have been hard to pin down, she said, she’s always been clear that she did not consent to any sexual contact and was “distraught” after the alleged assault.
She testified Tuesday that she tried to leave the mansion immediately after Cosby gave them a tour of the property and then departed for a function. She recalled “marching” to Samuelson’s car, telling her friend what happened through tears and asking to leave. She said Samuelson convinced her to stay. In her own testimony last week, Samuelson confirmed Huth was “distraught” and “crying,” begging to leave, but that she persuaded her to stay to take advantage of the famous home’s free food and amenities. “I talked her into staying,” Samuelson testified. “It was selfish of me.”
The women agreed that because Cosby disappeared to the event, leaving them behind, it was relatively safe to remain. “I had no choice. I didn’t drive there,” Huth testified, confirming that she went on to swim in the mansion’s notorious grotto and order a tequila sunrise without anyone asking for her ID.
Huth said Cosby eventually returned later that night wearing a tuxedo. She said at that point, when Cosby said he wanted to watch a movie, she called her dad as a diversion. “I didn’t want to sit in a dark room and watch a movie with someone who just molested me,” she told jurors. Huth said Cosby asked for her phone number, so she gave him her dad’s work number before leaving with Samuelson. Asked if she ever considered telling her dad what happened or going to police, Huth said she didn’t. “I was embarrassed, and if he wanted to blame me, I would have felt like an idiot,” she said.
“Did you blame yourself?” her lawyer Nathan Goldberg asked.
“Partly. For being there,” she replied. “I was uncomfortable, and I just didn’t want anybody to know what happened to me.”
Huth’s case is the first civil lawsuit accusing Cosby of sexual assault to reach trial. Several prior claims from different women were settled, many involving payments from Cosby’s insurance against his wishes. The trial now underway was delayed repeatedly by the pandemic and Cosby’s two criminal trials in Pennsylvania that led to his conviction on charges he sexually assaulted former Temple University staffer Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004. Huth’s 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.
Cosby is not attending the California trial. Instead, his longtime spokesman Andrew Wyatt sits in the gallery as his eyes and ears while his lawyers mount his defense. Bonjean cross-examined Huth for about two hours Monday afternoon and is due to resume the grilling on Wednesday. She used Huth’s statement to LAPD detectives in 2014 and a sworn deposition from 2016 to try to poke holes in her account. While Huth has claimed the bedroom used for her alleged assault was adjoined to a bathroom and had blue decor, Bonjean showed her video taken at the mansion in recent years in which the room with blue carpeting had no bathroom. Huth didn’t budge.
Bonjean also accused Huth of “coordinating” her story with Samuelson before stepping forward. She pointed out that both women made prior statements claiming Samuelson was playing Donkey Kong in the game room around the time of the alleged attack, even though Donkey Kong didn’t debut until years later. Huth said it was a coincidence. She testified Tuesday that she was using the game title in a generic sense, to express that her friend was playing on an arcade-style machine.
“That’s the only game that I know. I think maybe my kid played it. I don’t remember her playing ‘Donkey Kong,’ per se,” Huth testified.
“That’s not really issue. You were talking to her prior to your respective interviews and coordinating a story that included a detail like Donkey Kong,” Bonjean asserted.
“No,” Huth replied.
“So you coincidentally identified the same arcade game that was not in existence in 1975?” Bonjean asked.
“Correct,” Huth said. “We didn’t sit down together anywhere or coerce a story. I know the truth.”
Cosby also is being sued by actress and visual artist Lili Bernard over claims he drugged and raped her at the Trump Taj Mahal casino resort in Atlantic City in August 1990. Bernard attended the trial Monday and Tuesday, even though she doesn’t know Huth personally and has never spoken with her.
“I came as a gesture of solidarity and support,” Bernard tells Rolling Stone. “It was painful to watch. You see her reliving the trauma. She was only 16. I was 26, but she was 16. It’s deeply saddening.”