Bill Cosby trial: why he is back in court after his release from prison

Bill Cosby is on trial again for alleged sexual assault, nearly a year after he was released from prison following an overturned criminal conviction in a separate case.

The disgraced comedian and actor is set to face a civil trial next month after California resident Judy Huth accused him of sexually assaulting her at the Playboy Mansion when she was a teenager in the mid-1970s.

The allegations first came to light in 2014 – years before the #MeToo movement – ​​and are now seeing their way to court after setbacks related to the statute of limitations for reporting abuse and a shift in Huth’s recollection of the moment. where the alleged incident occurred.

The Huth case is one of the latest civil lawsuits the once-beloved ‘Cosby Show’ star faces after settling multimillion-dollar cases with at least eight women. Cosby, 84, said he will not attend the final civil proceedings, which will be held in Santa Monica.

Here’s what you need to know about the case before it starts.

Who is Judy Huth and what does she say happened?

Huth, 64, is a Riverside County resident who said she met Cosby around 1975 while shooting a movie in San Marino. Huth alleged that Cosby invited her and a friend to a tennis club where he gave them drinks, before taking them to the Playboy Mansion and telling them to say they were 19 if anyone someone asked.

Huth said after using the bathroom, she opened the door to find Cosby sitting on the bed. She alleged that he then tried to put his hand down her pants, and grabbed her hand and made her perform a sex act on him, Huth said.

What did Bill Cosby say?

Cosby has maintained his innocence in the case and has denied the allegations of all the women (about 60 in total) who have accused him of rape and sexual assault, among other alleged crimes.

Huth first alleged the assault happened in 1974 – when she was 15 – but later changed her story to say it happened in 1975, prompting Cosby’s legal team to request that the case be dismissed earlier this month.

Why did it take so long to go to court?

When Cosby was arrested in 2015 for alleged sex crimes, Huth and other civil matters were put on hold.

Two weeks after Huth filed the lawsuit, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office declined to charge Cosby, citing the statute of limitations. In 2019, however, a new California law extended the time for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file a lawsuit, in response to high-profile allegations of abuse by Catholic priests and Larry Nassar, a former doctor for the US Olympic gymnastics team.

Meanwhile, in 2015, Cosby was charged with drugging and assaulting another woman, Andrea Constand, in 2004. The trial began in June 2017, and after a first mistrial, Cosby was found guilty of assault. sex in 2018 and sentenced to three to ten years.

Why was he released from prison?

Cosby appealed the conviction in the Constand case in 2019, saying the judge should not have allowed five additional women to testify that they drugged and assaulted him, among other complaints. The case eventually reached the Philadelphia Supreme Court, which overturned the conviction and freed Cosby on June 30, 2021.

In its ruling, the court cited a “non-suit” agreement Cosby had with the former Montgomery County Dist. Atti. Bruce Castor, after Constand initially came forward with his allegations. Castor had feared he would not succeed in the case without a confession from Cosby and agreed not to prosecute him so that Cosby could not use his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

While there’s no evidence the promise was put in writing, the deal came before the case, meaning Cosby shouldn’t have been legally sued in the first place.

Can he be returned to prison if found guilty?

No. Huff’s trial is a civil matter, not a criminal one. Because she is suing for unspecified damages, Cosby cannot be sent to jail even if found guilty.

When does the trial start?

Jury selection began May 24, and opening arguments are scheduled for June 1.

Cosby is represented by attorney Jennifer Bonjean, who also represented him in his criminal case and is representing R&B star R. Kelly in his child pornography trial in Chicago. Huth is represented by renowned attorney Gloria Allred.

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