On Tuesday, June 21, 2022, a jury concluded deliberations and determined that Bill Cosby sexually abused a 16-year-old at the Playboy mansion in 1975. Judy Huth filed a civil suit against Cosby, alleging that in 1975 Cosby invited her to a party at the playboy mansion. Huth and a friend went to the party at the Playboy Mansion after meeting Cosby on a movie set where he was working.
At the Playboy Mansion, Huth and her friend hung out in a game room with Cosby until he attempted to put his hands down Huth’s pants in an adjacent bedroom. Cosby then exposed himself and forced her to perform a sex act without her consent. Cosby responded by denying that the incident occurred and said he would not have pursued sexual contact with someone under 18.
Although Judy Huth and Samuelson initially testified that it happened in 1974, they later corrected themselves stating they met Cosby in 1975. After over 30 years passing since the incident Huth’s attorney stated that Huth had some details, such as exact dates confused. Cosby’s attorneys brought this up during the trial along with Huff’s and Samuelson’s pre-trial depositions and police interviews which stated Samuelson played Donkey Kong that day in 1975, but the game was not sold until six years later.
As the week-long trial concluded, jurors deliberated and awarded Huth $500K, although her attorney initially sought $8 million. Upon the jury’s decision, Cosby representative Andrew Wyatt announced that the actor’s team would appeal the verdict.
Proving Sexual Assault in a Civil Case
As the case against Bill Cosby shows, sexual assault civil cases do not have to meet the burden of proof that a criminal case does. If a sexual assault occurs, but the prosecutor’s office declines to pursue criminal charges due to a lack of evidence, the victim can still file a civil suit, and the lack of a criminal case will have no impact on the outcome of the civil case.
A civil case tasks the plaintiff and their counsel with providing enough evidence to convince a judge or jury that it is more likely than not that the assault occurred. A variety of evidence can be used to support and prove a victim’s claims. This evidence can come from multiple sources that include:
Many sexual assault survivors do not seek medical treatment, but if they do, these records can help them prove the assault happened. But if the victim did not seek medical treatment, this would not prevent them from establishing that the assault occurred. The plaintiff’s attorney will then use alternative sources to prove the assault happened. Any mental health records regarding the assault should be released to your attorney because this will highlight that you were mentally distressed and needed to seek professional treatment from a mental health professional.
Someone who witnesses the assault can help establish the burden of proof that the assault occurred. A witness does not have to observe the assault visually if the victim confided details of the attack, so the witness can repeat this information to the court testifying in support of the victim. It is important to tell your lawyer if you confided details of the assault with a friend, therapist, teacher, or friend so your lawyer can contact the witness if it is necessary to prove your case.
Often the victim knows the person who assaulted them, so there may be communications such as texts or emails following the assault that can help prove their fault. If there were communication before the attack, your attorney would want to review this because it may show that they intentionally lured you into the situation or how they acted with you leading up to the attack.
It may seem invasive to put the details of a sexual attack out there for people to review, but if you are concerned about what information you want to release, speak to your lawyer, and discuss anything you are unsure about. Your attorney may not need to disclose all the information available and may be able to meet the burden of proof without revealing certain information.
Contact an Attorney
Sexual assault lawsuits have a statute of limitations in each state which is the time after a sexual that the victim can file a civil suit against the perpetrator or other liable parties. It is important to contact a lawyer before the statute of limitations runs out, and you cannot file a lawsuit against those responsible for the assault.
At Charles Boyk, we understand that an assault can be a traumatic event, so we fight to recover damage for our clients so they can start on the road to recovery. Contact one of our lawyers at Charles Boyk for a free consultation regarding your case.