Opening statements begin in Bill Cosby civil sex assault trial

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FILE – Bill Cosby arrives for a sentencing hearing following his sexual assault conviction at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown Pa., on Sept. 25, 2018. Eleven months after he was freed from prison, 85-year-old Cosby will again be the defendant in a sexual assault proceeding, this time a civil case in California. Judy Huth, who is now 64, alleges that in 1975 when she was 16, Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(Reuters) — A lawyer for a woman who says she was assaulted by Bill Cosby when she was a teenager in the mid-1970s told a jury on Wednesday the comedian has a sense of entitlement and invincibility, as opening statements kicked off in the civil case.

The woman, Judy Huth, sued Cosby in 2014, alleging that he brought her to the Playboy Mansion and forced her to perform a sex act around 1974, when she was 15 years old. She is seeking unspecified damages for sexual battery and emotional distress.

Attorney Nathan Goldberg told a jury in Santa Monica, California, that Huth met Cosby when she was just a teenager and he was a “star,” and showed jurors a photo of them together taken on the day Huth said she was assaulted.

In her lawsuit, Huth says she and a friend met Cosby at a film set at a park. She says Cosby invited the girls to meet him the following week, when he made Huth drink beer and molested her on a bed at the Los Angeles mansion.

“He has a sense of entitlement, and no fear,” Goldberg said of Cosby during opening statements. “He has a sense of invincibility.”

Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said in a statement, “We are confident that the evidence will discredit Plaintiff’s 50-year-old allegation.” Cosby is not expected to attend the trial.

Bonjean is expected to deliver her opening statement Wednesday afternoon.

Cosby, 84, is best known for his role as the lovable husband and father in the 1980s television comedy series “The Cosby Show,” earning him the nickname “America’s Dad.”

His family-friendly reputation was shattered after more than 50 women accused him of multiple sexual assaults over nearly five decades.

Goldberg said his client and her friend will testify about the day Huth says Cosby assaulted her. Jurors will also hear testimony from two other women who say they were assaulted by Cosby in 1975, he said.

In 2018, Cosby was found guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, an employee at his alma mater, Temple University, in his home in 2004.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the conviction in June 2021, after Cosby had served more than two years of a three- to 10-year sentence.

The court ruled that Cosby should never have faced the charges because a previous local district attorney had publicly promised in 2005 not to prosecute him. The U.S. Supreme Court declined prosecutors’ petition for review of the decision in March.

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