This time, they were fighting a civil lawsuit by a woman who accuses him of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager—with the attorneys claiming, however dubiously, that Cosby might face another criminal case.
On Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan tentatively set an April 2022 trial date for a civil suit against Cosby brought by Judy Huth, who alleges that Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15 years old. While the lawsuit was originally filed in 2014, and previously saw Cosby deposed, the legal proceedings took a backseat after Cosby’s criminal problems mounted in Pennsylvania, where he was convicted in 2018 of three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault.
Karlan, however, pushed the case along on Friday, lifting the stay for “all purposes” related to where the litigation stands with respect to the statute of limitations. The judge, however, did not rule on whether Cosby will have to be deposed again for the case—which his defense team has already suggested they will try to block, with the disgraced comedian potentially invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the civil lawsuit.
“You’re one of the oldest cases, if not the oldest case, on my calendar. It’s time to lift the stay,” Karlan said Friday, according to the New York Daily News, adding that “all other discovery should restart to get the wheels turning” before both parties return to court on September 30.
Following the hearing, Hunt’s defense attorney Gloria Allred, who has represented other Cosby accusers, held a press conference providing an update about the status conference and stressing that her team is looking “forward to continuing the battle for our very brave client.”
“We’re going to push forward and push hard because we want to get this case tried and we want to fight for justice for our client,” Allred said.
She added that if a judge in September ruled that Cosby has to have a second deposition, she will be handling the questions—and that his previous deposition in the civil case was under seal.
In a statement released on Friday, Cosby's team stressed their plans to “fully vindicate” the actor against Huth’s accusations. The team also announced that Jennifer Bonjean, who appeared before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to successfully argue Cosby’s conviction should be tossed, will be leading Cosby’s defense.
“There’s a lot of risk that what happened in Pennsylvania could happen again,” Bonjean told reports outside the courthouse on Friday when asked why Cosby still may invoke his Fifth Amendment right in the civil case.
Cosby’s defense team also said in the Friday statement that during the hearing, they “flagged a number of important legal issues in the case, including whether California’s abolition of a statute of limitations as to certain sex crimes is constitutional.”
The tentative new trial against Cosby comes after the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court vacated Cosby’s criminal conviction and sentence in June after finding that a previous 2005 understanding with prosecutors about allegations by another accuser, Andrea Constand, should have prevented the charges from ever being filed against him.
“In the words of Chief Justice Max Baer of the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, ‘Mr. Cosby was the victim of a reprehensible bait and switch.’ Those actions of an over-zealous judge and prosecutor caused Mr. Cosby great suffering with a two-year-and-ten-month unjust conviction and incarceration,” Cosby’s defense team said in the statement.
“He legitimately fears that he could be the target of any number of other malicious prosecutions in this climate where mob-justice trumps the rule of law and bald accusations, no matter how old or how implausible, are automatically viewed as truth,” the statement added.
The bombshell decision to overturn his conviction was invoked in a filing submitted by defense lawyer Michael Freedman ahead of Friday’s hearing—where he told the court that his client still had concerns that the Los Angeles Police Department may still be investigating Huth’s claims. Therefore, Freedman wrote in the filing, Cosby claims to keep his mouth shut.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department, however, told The Daily Beast there is “nothing pending” in the investigation into Huth’s claims. In December 2014, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office declined to criminally charge Cosby for Huth’s allegations, citing the statute of limitations statute having lapsed. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
The lawsuit claims that Huth first met Cosby, who was 37 at the time, while she and her 16-year-old friend watched him on a film set. Huth, who says she was 15 at the time, alleges that days after the meeting, Cosby gave her copious amounts of alcohol and took her to what she believed was the Playboy Mansion.
Cosby’s team, however, has previously claimed that Huth was not a minor on the date of the alleged incident, nor was the actor at the location at that time.
At the mansion, according to the lawsuit, Cosby led Huth to a bathroom, where he attempted to kiss her and slide his hands down her pants. Cosby then grabbed her hand and forced her to perform a sex act on him, the lawsuit states.
About four decades after the incident, Huth filed her lawsuit against Cosby, claiming sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Days later, Huth was interviewed by the LAPD’s special victims unit with Allred, according to the New York Daily News. Cosby has denied Huth’s allegations.
Huth’s lawsuit came just months before the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office reopened the criminal investigation into Constand’s allegations about Cosby.
After a 2017 mistrial into that case that saw a jury remain deadlocked, Cosby was retried, convicted, and ultimately sentenced in 2018.
On June 30, Cosby was released from SCI Phoenix, a state prison outside of Philadelphia, after the state Supreme Court’s ruling.