(UPDATED WITH COSBY STATEMENT) Less than two weeks after a mistrial was declared in Bill Cosby’s criminal case in Pennsylvania for the 2004 rape of Andrea Constand, a California judge has put a trial date on the calendar for an alleged assault by Cosby at the Playboy Mansion more than 42 years ago. With this latest legal marker, one of the actor’s attorneys and Cosby himself now says it is highly unlikely the town hall tour Cosby’s PR team announced last week would go forward before any potential criminal case re-trial.
In a hearing this morning, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Kaplan pegged July 30, 2018 as the tentative start date for the civil case. Although the Golden State’s former statute of limitations has passed on Judy Huth’s claims of being sexually attacked at age 15 by Cosby in 1974 at Hugh Hefner’s home, she was still able to file in 2014 because she was a minor at the time of the alleged incident.
The judge did not set a schedule for how long the trial could last, if it even happens. What Kaplan did do is tell Cosby’s lawyers and Huth’s attorney Gloria Allred that they need to be back in court September 14 for a hearing on whether a second Cosby deposition in the case will go forward.
Cosby sat for a more than seven-hour deposition in the Huth case last October 9.
Long fought by Cosby, the new deposition has been granted but stayed Tuesday by the court pending results of the Pennsylvania criminal case. After a week of trial and more than 50 hours of deliberations, the first iteration of that case ended June 17 in a mistrial with the jury deadlocked. Cosby, who turns 80 next month, faced more than 10 years in jail if convicted on three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault.
As is his prerogative under Pennsylvania law, Montgomery County D.A. Kevin Steele says he will seek a new trial with the same charges against the actor. After today’s hearing at the Santa Monica Courthouse, Cosby lawyer Angela Agrusa, who helped represent him in the criminal trial, knocked down any talk of an upcoming tour by The Cosby Show star to talk about sexual assault. “He would never do anything that undermined the importance of this issue,” the LA-based attorney said outside the courthouse today. “I don’t see him speaking publicly like that.”
“The current propaganda that I am going to conduct a sexual assault tour is false,” said Cosby himself in a statement today, contradicting his own PR team’s remarks on Alabama TV on June 22. “Any further information about public plans will be given at the appropriate time.”
Tour or no tour, depending on what happens in the Keystone State, Kaplan wants an update in the fall before deciding whether to lift the stay and set a date for a second Cosby depo in the Huth case. Held up because of the Pennsylvania trial and the almost certainty that Cosby would claim his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, a second deposition is rare in California civil cases. However, as Allred has argued in court, there are several questions out of the first depo she believes Cosby should respond to for the court record.
While admitting in a separate 2005 deposition that he gave former Temple University employee Constand several blue Benadryl pills at his Philadelphia-area mansion in January 2004, Cosby always has said the incident was consensual.
Elected late last year partially on a campaign promise to prosecute Cosby, Steele arraigned the actor in December 2015 just before Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for sex crimes expired. It is the only criminal case pending against the actor despite more than 60 women, including Huth, accusing him of drugging and sexually assaulting them over the decades.
Representing several of those women, Allred was in court for all of Cosby’s criminal trial in Norristown, PA this month.