Nearly a year after Bill Cosby was freed from a Pennsylvania prison on a technicality, the infamous comedian is set to begin a civil sexual assault trial.
Next week marks the beginning of a California trial over Judy Huth’s lawsuit against Cosby, which alleges that he sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in the 1970s. The lawsuit is one of the last active legal proceedings against Cosby, who’s been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women, after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in June 2021 to overturn Cosby’s conviction in a 2018 sexual assault case.
Huth’s lawsuit has heated up over the last few days, as lawyers are battling over changes to her account. Huth initially said that Cosby isolated her in the Playboy Mansion around 1974 and had her use her hand to perform a sex act on him. She would have been 15 at the time.
But in a recent court filing, Huth said that the assault happened in 1975, when she was 16. That shift happened, Huth’s legal team said, because they did further research into when Cosby was shooting a movie at a park in Los Angeles. Huth has said that she met Cosby at the park.
Cosby’s lawyers had attempted to get the case dismissed based on Huth’s changing story, but Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig D. Karlan ruled Tuesday that the trial will go forward. However, Karlan also ruled that Huth had to sit for an additional deposition.
Huth initially sued Cosby in 2014. Her lawsuit was first delayed by the criminal proceedings against Cosby and then by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cosby isn’t expected to attend any of the trial in the Huth lawsuit, and he has repeatedly denied all allegations of wrongdoing. In 2019, Cosby’s representative said that Cosby’s insurer decided, against the then-imprisoned comedian’s wishes, to settle a civil defamation lawsuit lodged by seven women. Cosby is also currently facing a lawsuit filed in New Jersey by Lili Bernard that accuses him of raping Bernard in a Trump-owned hotel around 1990.
Cosby’s criminal conviction had once been seen as the first successful trial of the post-#MeToo era. For many sexual assault survivors, Cosby’s release, as well as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decree that he could not be tried again on the charges against him, was evidence that the #MeToo movement had not delivered on its promises of taking sexual violence more seriously.