SANTA MONICA, California. A Los Angeles judge on Friday appeared to be strongly leaning towards allowing Bill Cosby to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege to avoid testifying in a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims he sexually assaulted her when she was 15 years old. 1970s.
At a hearing on the matter, Supreme Court Justice Craig Karlan agreed with Cosby’s attorney that the 84-year-old has a reasonable fear of facing criminal charges again for one or more of the many sexual harassment charges that have been publicly brought against him. , and has the right not to say anything under oath that could lead to such accusations.
“It appears that he has a reasonable fear of being prosecuted, and if new information comes to light, it could cause the prosecutor to change his mind,” Karlan said. “I don’t see how anyone can find the opposite, other than to conclude that he has reasonable concerns.”
Lawyers for Judy Huth, who claims Cosby forced her to have sexual intercourse with him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, are trying to get Cosby to give a second testimony. Cosby’s lawyers denied the allegations. He gave initial testimony shortly after the lawsuit was filed in 2014, prior to his two criminal trials and his later overturned conviction in Pennsylvania.
Huth’s lawyer, John Steven West, argued that the accusations against Cosby had been aired for years and that the alleged incidents were all decades old. He said that any criminal charges would already have been filed.
“The facts, which are overwhelmingly known, show that Mr. Cosby has no real fear of prosecution,” West said. “Despite his name being at the center of allegations of sexual harassment for 16 years, there has been exactly one prosecution.”
West pointed out that the LAPD investigated Huth’s allegations seven years ago, that the district attorney declined to press charges, and that other prosecutors did the same with Cosby’s other accusers.
The judge disagreed with the argument.
“The fact that prosecutors refuse to prosecute does not mean that the newly elected prosecutor will not take a different view,” Karlan said, “and no future district attorney will be bound by the decision not to prosecute.”
The judge planned to issue a written decision later, but had little doubt that it would be in Cosby’s favor.
Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, argued, and the judge agreed, that the Pennsylvania case was a cautionary tale that applies here as well. Cosby, believing the prosecutor had assured him that he would not face charges, was then prosecuted after making the revelations in a 2005 civil trial.
“They told him they weren’t going to go after him,” Bonjean said, “then 10 years later they recalled him, after what? After he testified.”
The reversal led a Pennsylvania Court of Appeals to overturn Cosby’s conviction in June, after serving almost three years in prison.
Cosby became the first celebrity convicted of sexual assault in the #MeToo era when a jury in a 2018 retrial found him guilty of drug use and molesting college sports administrator Andrea Constand in 2004.
Earlier this week, Bonjean asked the U.S. Supreme Court to deny prosecutors’ request to reopen the case.
Cosby was already a pioneering black actor and comedian when he created the hit “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s. A flurry of sexual harassment allegations later shattered his “Father of America” image and led to multimillion-dollar lawsuits against at least eight women.
The Hut case is one of the few lawsuits he is still facing.
Karlan agreed to another postponement, from April to May, of the long-delayed trial, but on Friday said he was determined to see the May date and start a jury trial.
The Associated Press generally does not name alleged victims of sexual assault unless they speak publicly, as Huth and Constand did.