A civil jury has found Bill Cosby guilty of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in 1975—a case that comes roughly one year after Cosby was released from prison after his conviction for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand was overturned on a legal technicality. The verdict was read on Tuesday in Santa Monica, California, and Cosby was ordered to pay Judy Huth $500,000 in damages. Cosby wasn’t even in the room when the verdict was read.
Despite the civil jury ruling in Huth’s favor, a representative for Cosby reportedly told TMZ that Cosby had celebrated the outcome of the case, saying “What? That’s all? Booyah!” when learning of the verdict over the phone—the 84-year-old had apparently expected the damages to be somewhere in the millions. The same spokesperson told the New York Post that Cosby plans to appeal the $500,000 judgment, and he “maintains his innocence.”
Huth, now 64, first filed the civil suit in 2014, alleging that Cosby molested her when she was 16 after he invited her and a friend to the Playboy mansion in the mid-1970s. In her complaint, Huth said she first met Cosby at a park while he was shooting a movie in Los Angeles, and invited Huth and her friend to his tennis club. He later invited them to a private home, where he gave them alcohol, and they played drinking games before bringing them to the mansion. At the mansion, he instructed them both to say they were 19. When Huth asked to go to the bathroom, Cosby took her to one inside a bedroom suite, then assaulted her when she came out.
Because the statute of limitations for Huth to pursue a criminal case against Cosby expired in 2014, she filed a civil suit for emotional damages as an underage victim of sexual abuse. Huth told reporters outside the courthouse she was “elated” by the ruling. “It’s been so many years, so many tears. It’s been a long time coming.”
Throughout the trial, Cosby’s legal team attacked Huth’s credibility because of a change in the timeline of her allegations: When she first filed the lawsuit, she claimed the assault had taken place in 1974 when she was 15, but told jurors during the trial she had been wrong about the year, and now believes it was 1975. In a video deposition, Cosby also claimed he wouldn’t have pursued a sexual relationship with a minor—sexual assault is, to be clear, not at all the same thing as a sexual relationship. Still, Huth maintained her chilling story, and the jury ruled in her favor by a nine-to-three margin.
Even if Cosby did, in fact, celebrate the $500,000 in damages as a win, for all intents and purposes, he’s now once again a legally recognized sexual assailant. Last summer, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Cosby’s conviction for assaulting Constand had to be thrown out because it relied on his statements from a previous deposition—which a previous prosecutor had promised would not be used to charge Cosby. In that deposition, Cosby admitted to giving quaaludes to women before assaulting them. According to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the use of these statements in the Constand case was a violation of Cosby’s Fifth Amendment rights.
Dozens of women have alleged that Cosby has sexually assaulted them over the last 57 years, and all were seemingly ignored until a New York Magazine cover in 2016 spotlighted just how many women had come forward against the once-beloved comedian. But only Constand’s case led to a conviction, and Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison in 2018—only three of which he actually served. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision. Another woman, Lili Bernard, currently has a civil suit pending against Cosby, alleging that he sexually assaulted her in New Jersey in 1990.