SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Reuters) - Lawyers for comedian Bill Cosby and a woman accusing him of sexually abusing her when she was 15 faced off in a California courtroom on Thursday over a defense bid to dismiss her lawsuit for reasons related to the statute of limitations.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig Kaplan said at the end of the hearing he would take arguments from both sides “under submission” and render a written decision at an undisclosed date.
Cosby, 78, lost a previous bid to fend off the same lawsuit on similar grounds last year, a fact Kaplan noted during Thursday’s proceedings. He added that Cosby’s latest challenge to the case “just seems like a second bite at the same apple.”
Cosby’s accuser, Judy Huth, now in her 50s, sued the entertainer in December 2014, alleging that he plied her with alcohol and molested her during an encounter at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 1974.
Cosby’s attorneys have called Huth’s account a fabrication, asserted that her case stemmed from a failed extortion attempt and argued that she waited too long, under the statute of limitations, to bring a case.
Huth is one of more than 50 women who have come forward over the past two years to publicly accuse Cosby of rape and other forms of sexual abuse. Most involve incidents said to have occurred a decade ago or more, too far back to be criminally prosecuted or litigated in civil court.
But authorities in Pennsylvania charged Cosby in December with sexually assaulting a woman in 2005. At least nine other women are suing Cosby for defamation, charging they were smeared by his public assertions that their allegations were false.
The comedian has acknowledged marital infidelity but denied ever engaging in non-consensual sexual behavior.
Huth brought her case under a California law allowing victims of childhood abuse to sue beyond the statute of limitations if, within the past three years, they have realized they suffered from psychological damage that previously was repressed.
Cosby’s lawyers have countered that Huth tried to sell her story to the tabloids nearly a decade ago, belying her claim of a more recent discovery of psychological harm. They say Huth sued only after trying to extort Cosby for hush money.
Cosby’s lawyers also argued that Huth lacked the required certification from mental health professionals to support her claims. But the judge said her pleadings were already found sufficient in that respect.
Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Alan Crosby and Peter Cooney