BY ERIQ GARDNER | HollywoodReporter.Com
Cosby’s attorney also tells a Los Angeles judge that he wishes to challenge the constitutionality of abolishing the statute of limitations for childhood sexual assault claims.
Bill Cosby is out of prison but not clear of trouble. For the first time since June when he was released from a Pennsylvania jail, his lawyers have addressed a judge. Specifically, one serving the Los Angeles Superior Court where Cosby currently faces a civil suit brought by Judy Huth, who alleges being sexually assaulted by him at the Playboy Mansion in 1974.
The Huth case, originally filed in 2014, has been on hold for years. At one point, Cosby was ordered to sit for a deposition, and he did, but refused to answer questions. The litigation then took a back seat to Cosby’s criminal problems. Now that Cosby’s conviction for assaulting Andrea Constand has been overturned by the Pennsylvania’s highest court because of an old non-prosecution agreement in that jurisdiction, Cosby is free, at least in theory, to testify in civil cases. (Recall, for example, how O.J. Simpson had to take the witness stand in a wrongful death suit he eventually lost after he beat a criminal case for the murders of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman.)
But although he may be contemplating going back on tour, Cosby, through his attorney Michael Freedman, tells a Los Angeles judge that he will continue to resist speaking about his alleged assaults.
“Defendant does not agree that merely because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s criminal conviction for a single offense, allegedly arising from an incident that occurred in 2004, Defendant no longer enjoys a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent,” states a status conference report made public Wednesday. “This is particularly so where numerous states have no criminal statutes of limitations for sex crimes. It is well-settled that the Fifth Amendment protects both the innocent and the guilty. Having already been forced to face a malicious criminal prosecution that resulted in an unlawful three-year incarceration, Defendant is not confident that such a risk does not still exist in this jurisdiction and others.”
Cosby’s lawyer even points to the potential for prosecution in Los Angeles.
“Indeed, prior to a stay being entered in this case, LAPD claimed that the Huth matter is an open criminal investigation,” continues Freedman. “Thus, Defendant anticipates that if he is forced to sit for a deposition, he will exercise his Fifth Amendment guarantees absent a court order ruling that he has no Fifth Amendment right in this jurisdiction or any others.”
The status report also highlights another coming development in this case involving Huth, who is represented by Gloria Allred.
At the beginning of 2020, California civil law was amended to allow victims of childhood sex abuse to sue over very old events. Specifically, the amended law allows such a plaintiff to sue upon becoming an adult within five years of discovering a psychological injury caused by the sexual assault.
Huth was 15 years old at the time of the alleged assault so this amended law opens the door to a potentially viable case. Cosby’s attorney appears to agree that the “look-back” provision, which largely abolished the statute of limitations, applies in cases like the Huth suit, not litigated to finality.
But in the face of this change in law (plus others, as in New York, which has similarly got rid of the statute of limitations for childhood sexual assaults), Cosby wishes to make a constitutional challenge. A judge is told that neither the California Supreme Court nor the United States Supreme Court have addressed the constitutionality of such an amended law — presumably whether it violates due process. With respect to a nearly five-decade-old occurrence, Cosby’s attorney anticipates making the argument it’s legally out of bounds.
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