Explanatory: A look at Bill Cosby’s civil trial in the sexual assault case

LOS ANGELES (AP) – 11 months after he was released from prison when the Pennsylvania Court of Appeals overturned his sentence, 85-year-old Bill Cosby will again be charged in a sexual assault trial. This time it will be a civil case in California related to the events in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. A jury has been selected in the coastal city of Santa Monica, California, and introductory statements begin on Wednesday in a case that is expected to last two weeks.

Here’s a look at the key elements of the case:


Judy Hutt, now 64, says that when she was 16 in 1975, she and a friend met Cosby at a park in Los Angeles, where he was filming “Let’s Do It Again” with Sidney Poitier. A few days later, according to Huta’s lawsuit, Cosby forced her to drink alcohol “as part of the game” and then drove her to the Playboy mansion. There, according to the complaint, he took her to an isolated bedroom, kissed her on the mouth, slipped his hand over her pants and used her hand to have sex with him. Hutt filed a lawsuit against Cosby in 2014, demanding a determination of financial damages in the lawsuit.

Hutt also filed a complaint with police, but no criminal charges were filed. It took eight years for the case to be delayed due to delays in two criminal proceedings against Cosby and a pandemic. The main witnesses in the trial will be Hutt and her friend at the time.


Cosby’s lawyers admitted he met Hutt and drove her to the Playboy mansion. The same is evidenced by the photo without the date on which they are two. But they categorically deny the fact of the attack. And they say Hutt was actually 18 when the mansion visited, which would make any violation much less serious under California law. Cosby’s lawyers did not say what evidence they would use to demonstrate this, and stressed that the burden of proving when the visit took place lies with the plaintiffs.


The case has taken on new significance as one of the few lawsuits against Cosby after the Pennsylvania High Court overturned his conviction for sexual assault and released him from prison last June, as well as after many other lawsuits were settled against him. the will of his insurers.


Cosby, who has gone through two lengthy criminal trials, is not required to attend this and has no plans to appear. His representatives say it is because glaucoma has made him blind. The jury said in the selection process that they would not allow Cosby’s absence to influence their decision, which is required by the court. However, attorneys generally like to have their clients present to give their side a human face and show the client care and seriousness about the process.

He will not appear in the place of witnesses either. Cosby did give one video of the case, but the judge ruled that he did not need to give a second, broader testimony, and he would not be forced to testify in person. The judge found that Cosby could invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination because there is a possibility that he could still be prosecuted in California and other jurisdictions for sexual assault.


The biggest challenge for both sides will be the presentation of evidence and testimony to jurors based on events nearly 50 years old. Many visitors to the Playboy mansion and others who could testify have died, including Playboy magazine founder and former owner of the mansion Hugh Hefner, although he testified before his death in 2017. A Playboy Enterprises lawyer says they can’t find the visitors’ logs of the mansion during that time. Distant memories will need to be linked to fragments of photographs, news articles and other archives to refresh the memories.


The problems with the age of the case were illustrated by the major change Hut made in her story a few weeks before the trial, after evidence found by her lawyers led them to believe she met Cosby on set in 1975 when she was 16 years old, not the end. 1973 or early 1974, when she was 15. Among the things they used to conclude: a dated photo of Cosby with a beard Hutt remembers that he was. Cosby’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjan called the late change an “ambush” that would complicate the defense, but the judge refused to dismiss the case or adjourn the trial. He allowed Huta’s final expression at the last minute.


Hutt counts among his lawyers Gloria Allred, who has become known around the world for representing women in high-profile cases like this one. But she is not expected to take an active role in the process, yielding evidence to two colleagues from her firm, Nathan Goldberg and David West. Cosby will primarily represent Bonjan. The mother of four has made a name for herself in the country in recent years thanks to her aggressive representation of Cosby and R. Kelly. She defended both as vigorously on Twitter as she did in court, although her account was recently deleted.


A jury of eight women and four men was selected last week. The band will say young for the jury – one member of only 19. It could break in any case for Cosby. While many said during interrogation that they did not grow out of his TV show or stand-up comedy and did not have much respect for him, many of the same people said they also paid no attention to the criminal process or the charges against him.


Plaintiffs will need to step lower than Cosby’s criminal prosecutors. The jury will have to decide whether Cosby acted not beyond reasonable doubt, but through the superiority of the evidence. And unlike criminal cases that require a unanimous jury, the consent of nine out of 12 will suffice.


The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they have been sexually abused, but may if a person publicly declares it as Huth did.


Follow AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

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