Why is Bill Cosby back in court this time?

Everything you need to know about the case

Bill Cosby.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby is facing another sexual assault allegation in court after being released from prison last year. Here's what you need to know:

Why is Bill Cosby back in court? Is he facing charges?

Cosby is being sued by Judy Huth, who claims the comedian sexually assaulted her in the 1970s. This is a civil case, and Cosby hasn't faced any charges over her allegations due to the statute of limitations in California.

Huth's lawsuit dates back to 2014, but it was delayed as Cosby battled criminal charges over separate allegations that he sexually assaulted Andrea Constand in 2004. Those charges ultimately landed Cosby in jail, but he was released in 2021 after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his conviction on the grounds that he had an agreement with a previous prosecutor that should have prevented him from being charged in the first place.

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What are Huth's claims?

Huth alleged in her 2014 lawsuit that Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15.

The lawsuit said Huth and a friend, who was 16, met Cosby in California's Lacy Park "in or about 1974" when they noticed he was filming a movie there. Cosby, who allegedly learned both their ages, invited Huth and her friend to his tennis club and then to a house, where he served them alcohol, the lawsuit claims. Cosby then allegedly led the girls to the Playboy Mansion, telling them to lie about their ages if asked.

While at the Playboy Mansion, the lawsuit says Huth needed to use the bathroom and Cosby "directed her to a bathroom within a bedroom suit near the game room." When Huth came out of the bathroom, Cosby was allegedly sitting on a bed and told her to sit next to him. "He then proceeded to sexually molest her by attempting to put his hand down her pants, and then taking her hand in his hand and performing a sex act on himself without her consent," the lawsuit says.

Huth alleges she has suffered "psychological damage and mental anguish" as a result of the alleged assault, and she's seeking damages.

What has Cosby's team said?

Cosby's lawyers say he "does not deny that he socialized with plaintiff at the Playboy Mansion," and a photo shows Cosby and Huth there, but he denies sexually assaulting her. Cosby also "vehemently denies that plaintiff was underage," the attorneys say.

The comedian's legal team has called into question Huth's credibility, particularly after she adjusted the timeline of her allegations. Before the trial was set to begin, Huth said the alleged assault happened in 1975, not 1974, so she would have been 16, not 15. Cosby's attorneys argued the case should have been dismissed as a result, complaining of a "trial by ambush" and saying that based on Huth's previous timeline, they obtained Playboy Mansion visitor logs from 1974, not 1975, to disprove her account, Rolling Stone reports. The evidence suggests that Huth and her friend weren't at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, they say.

"You work you work you work to create a defense, and then all of a sudden at the last minute, it's a bait-and-switch," Cosby attorney Jennifer Bonjean told The Associated Press. The judge declined to throw out the case but ordered Huth and her friend to provide more deposition before jury selection began.

Why does Huth say she adjusted her timeline?

Huth says she revised her timeline for the alleged assault based on new evidence, which helped clarify when Cosby filmed the movie Let's Do It Again in Lacy Park. Her lawyers also suggest the defense knew the alleged incident took place in 1975 [should this be 1974?] from the beginning.

Is Cosby expected to testify?

Cosby isn't expected to testify, nor will he be attending the trial, according to his attorneys, though he previously provided a deposition. Opening arguments are expected to begin on June 1. Cosby's lawyer also represents R. Kelly. Meanwhile, Huth is being represented by famed attorney Gloria Allred, who has represented numerous alleged victims of sexual abuse.

Are there any other ongoing Cosby cases?

In early March 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision to overturn Cosby's conviction. Outside of the Huth trial, though, Cosby was also sued in federal court in October 2021 by actress Lili Bernard, who alleges he drugged and raped her in 1990. He has denied her allegations.

Dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, and numerous lawsuits against him have been settled out of court. But the Huth case, according to USA Today, is "the last civil suit in a state court that Cosby faces."

Cosby's accusers expressed dismay last year when he was released from prison, with Victoria Valentino, who has accused Cosby of rape, telling ABC News, "I am deeply distressed about the injustice of the whole thing." Though Cosby hasn't been charged in the Huth case, Valentino told The New York Times that for the comedian's alleged victims, this trial "may be our last stand for justice and seeing accountability come to fruition in our stand against Bill Cosby."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.