By ANDREW DALTON, AP Entertainment Writer
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — With jury selection less than a week away, attorneys rushed to process shifting evidence Tuesday in Bill Cosby’s civil trial on allegations that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl at the Playboy mansion nearly 50 years ago.
Complainant Judy Huth said in a recent court filing that she now believes the assault happened in 1975, when she was 16, not 1974, when she was 15, as she had long claimed as much, prompting cries of foul play and a demand that the case be dismissed by Cosby’s lawyers. , who said the change upset their defense on the eve of the trial.
“It’s not fair,” Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said in court. “It’s called a trial by ambush.”
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan has given no indication that he plans to dismiss the 8-year-old case just before a trial he is determined to have started as scheduled on Monday, and continued its preparations.
Cosby, 85, will not attend, his lawyers said. The case took on renewed significance as one of the few remaining lawsuits against him after Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned his sexual assault conviction in June and released him from jail, and numerous other lawsuits were settled against his will by his insurer.
Lawyers for Huth said the change in his story came after searching for archival evidence led them to determine the dates Cosby was shooting the movie ‘Let’s Do It Again’ at a Los Angeles-area park. , where Huth says the two met before taking her. at the mansion.
The evidence included a dated photo of Cosby with a beard and a tuxedo that looked exactly like Huth remembered him.
The change was revealed in a statement attached to a May 5 petition. But Bonjean said she should have received direct notification and told the judge the decision was “subversive”.
One of Huth’s lawyers, Nathan Goldberg, took offense.
“We filed it with the court, was it subversive?” said Goldberg.
He suggested the defense had long concealed the timing of the mansion visit.
“They always knew it was 1975,” Goldberg said.
Cosby’s attorneys said they built much of their defense around the time of the trip to the Playboy mansion, including going to great lengths to establish Cosby’s whereabouts at the time and basing their planned questions for Huth on the witness stand around his account of the timeline.
Huth’s lawsuit alleges that Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him in a bedroom at Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s famed Los Angeles mansion.
Bonjean acknowledges that Cosby met Huth and took her to the mansion – a photograph shows the two together – but that the visit took place later, when Huth was not a minor, and no sexual assault took place. took place anyway.
Bonjean also said the change in history also means changes in the relevance of case law, which treats 15- and 16-year-olds differently.
Without dismissing the case or delaying the trial, the judge agreed with Huth’s lawyers that they should have clearly informed the defense of the change in schedule, and he ordered Huth and a friend who corroborated his story to sit for new statements this week.
“It is extraordinarily difficult to defend against an allegation from 50 years ago. Nobody could do that, innocent, guilty or something in between,” said Bonjean, who also represented Cosby in his criminal case and is representing R. Kelly in his Chicago child pornography trial. “You work, you work , you work to create a defense, then all of a sudden at the last minute, it’s bait and switch.
Huth’s attorney, Gloria Allred, declined to comment in court.
Cosby gave a videotaped statement early in the case, but will not be required to testify at trial.
He won’t make the trip to California from his home in Pennsylvania because of glaucoma that left him blind, his reps said.
But his absence is no indication of how vigorously he intends to fight.
“Mr. Cosby is a guy who has never settled for anything in life, and he’s not going to settle for this case,” Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said after the hearing.
The Associated Press does not normally name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly, as Huth has repeatedly done.
Cosby, the groundbreaking black actor and comedian, was the first celebrity convicted of sexual assault in the #MeToo era. At his retrial in 2018, the jury found him guilty of drugging and assaulting a college sports administrator. However, the conviction was later overturned.
A barrage of sexual assault allegations destroyed his image as “America’s father” and led to multimillion-dollar legal settlements with at least eight women.
Follow AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton
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