The jury in the Bill Cosby sex assault trial is expected to begin deliberations on Thursday after being presented starkly different accounts on Wednesday of what had happened to a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles some 47 years ago.
In his closing argument, Nathan Goldberg, a lawyer for Judy Huth, who brought the suit, told the 12-person jury that Mr. Cosby had schemed to isolate and take advantage of the teenager, and that she had paid a painful price over a lifetime of anxiety and depression. That anxiety intensified, she has said, around the time many other women were coming forward with accusations against Mr. Cosby in 2014, and diminished in 2018 when he was found guilty in a criminal case in Pennsylvania.
“His behavior involved planning and intent to get her to a vulnerable location,” he told the jury impaneled to decide the civil case in Santa Monica, Calif. “If you believe she was molested by Mr. Cosby, he has to be held fully accountable. Four years of misery, what’s that worth to a person?”
Mr. Goldberg said the jury should carefully consider the testimony of Donna Samuelson, a friend at the time who had accompanied Ms. Huth to the mansion and corroborated Ms. Huth’s testimony. He also pointed to the testimony of two other women whom Ms. Huth’s team had produced as witnesses and who described encounters with Mr. Cosby in 1975, the year Ms. Huth said she met him.
Mr. Goldberg said that Mr. Cosby’s defense amounted to implying that all four women were “in on it” and lying.
The Sexual Assault Cases Against Bill Cosby
After Bill Cosby’s 2018 criminal conviction for sexual assault was overturned, the first civil case accusing him of sexual misconduct has reached trial.
But in their closing statement, Mr. Cosby’s lawyers said that, far from being a victim, Ms. Huth was an unreliable witness — one who had blatantly made up an account of assault and coordinated her story with her friend, Ms. Samuelson, before coming forward to file the lawsuit in 2014.
“I don’t think you can believe anything Ms. Huth says, frankly,” said Jennifer Bonjean, a lawyer for Mr. Cosby.
She said that Ms. Huth could not demonstrate that there had been sexual contact, and her lawyers had not met the burden of proof to show that the distress she reported suffering later in life was caused by any encounter with Mr. Cosby.
Mr. Cosby has denied having any sexual contact with Ms. Huth. His lawyer said that it would have been acceptable if Mr. Cosby had been attracted to her because, she said, the two friends had looked like adult women.
“She cannot demonstrate that there was causation between this incident and the alleged trauma 40 years later,” Ms. Bonjean said.
“I am not going to credit her just because we live in a time where, if she says it, it must be true,” she added. “There’s no evidence.”
Ms. Huth, now 64, and Ms. Samuelson have said they were invited by Mr. Cosby, now 84, to join him at the mansion several days after meeting him on a film set that they had come upon in a park not far from their homes.
Ms. Huth said Mr. Cosby invited them to his tennis club, then gave them alcohol at a house where he was staying. She said he then asked them to follow him in their car to the mansion, where, in an isolated bedroom, he tried to put his hand down his pants and then forced her to perform a sex act on him.
When it begins its deliberations, the jury will be asked to decide its verdict based on a preponderance of the evidence. Only nine of the 12 will have to agree on a finding to reach a verdict, unlike the unanimity required in a criminal case.
In an effort to highlight inconsistencies in the testimony against their client, Mr. Cosby’s lawyers emphasized, as they had earlier in the trial, that an arcade game, “Donkey Kong,” Ms Samuelson said she had played at the mansion was not released until several years later. Ms. Samuelson said she simply got the name wrong.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Goldberg said, “This is not a game.
“We have a client,” he continued, “who was sexually molested by Bill Cosby at the Playboy Mansion in 1975. Now it’s your turn to hold him accountable. Justice does not know how much time has passed. He knows what is right and wrong.”