SANTA MONICA, Calif: A California jury in a civil case ruled on Tuesday that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted a woman at the Playboy Mansion in 1975 when she was a teenager and ordered the comedian to pay her $500,000 in damages for emotional distress from the incident.
Judy Huth had testified that the comedian invited her and a friend to the mansion when she was 16, and he was 37 when she was assaulted.
The verdict came nearly a year after Cosby was freed from prison when Pennsylvania’s highest court threw out his sexual assault conviction in a different criminal case there.
Huth’s lawsuit was the first civil case against Cosby to come to trial.
Cosby, who did not appear in person at the trial, denied Huth’s allegation. His defense team will appeal the verdict, Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said.
“Mr. Cosby continues to maintain his innocence and will vigorously fight these false accusations, so that he can get back to bringing the pursuit of happiness, joy and laughter to the world,” Wyatt said in a statement.
Cosby, 84, is best known for his role as the lovable husband and father in the 1980s television comedy series “The Cosby Show,” earning him the nickname “America’s Dad.” But his family-friendly reputation was shattered after more than 50 women accused him of sexual assaults over nearly five decades.
The jury did not rule entirely in Huth’s favor. By a 9-3 vote, they said she had not provided “clear and convincing evidence” that Cosby had acted with “malice, oppression or fraud.”
If jurors had voted yes on that question, they could have provided additional punitive damages to Huth.