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Lawyers representing disgraced actor Bill Cosby have used what has been called a “Donkey Kong defense” during the ongoing civil trial against the actor, who was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy mansion in 1975.
“Donkey Kong’s defense” played its part in a standoff on Monday, when Cosby’s lawyer pressed a key witness over earlier statements that she played the arcade game during a visit with Cosby to the Playboy mansion in 1975, six years before it was released. The testimony came in the Los Angeles County trial over the lawsuit brought by Jodi Huth, who also began testifying on Monday, but has yet to describe her allegations that Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy mansion when she was 16. Cosby denies her allegations.
Cosby was not asked to attend the trial.
Donna Samuelson, Huth’s high school friend who accompanied her and Cosby on a visit to the mansion, returned to the stage on Monday, testifying around the playroom with an adjoining bedroom where Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sexual act.
“You testified many times that you were playing Donkey Kong,” Cosby’s attorney Jennifer Bunjian told Samuelson, referring to a 2014 police interview and 2016 testimony in the Hoth case.
“If I did, I did,” said Samuelson. “I understand that he was not there yet.”
Bonjean played a segment of the deposition, in which Samuelson referenced the game several times.
When asked on Monday to explain the discrepancy, Samuelson replied, “I got the name wrong. I kept saying that because it was a game. It could have been Atari.”
She also said that she was playing the game when Cosby came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders before she dumped him.
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Bonjean showed Samuelson and the jury a photo of the game room taken in 2016, where Donkey Kong could be seen, and asked if similar photos taken after the 1975 years had affected her memory and testimony.
Samuelson responded that she had never seen such a photo until she was shown the 2016 photo in court during her testimony last week.
Huth’s attorney, Nathan Goldberg, warned jurors during his opening remarks that they would hear “Donkey Kong’s defense” from Cosby’s attorney.
So I got the name wrong, Goldberg said.
Bonjean embraced the term in her editorial, saying that Huth’s previous similar statements about Samuelson playing the game, and pictures of her in the room later, were evidence that the two women were orchestrating a false story.
Huth, 64, climbed briefly late Monday to remember a spring day in 1975 when she and Samuelson took her brother’s dog to play frisbee at Lacey Park in San Marino, California, a place they frequented. She said they noticed that there was a production going on there that would turn into filming for “Let’s Do It Again”. Huth said they have seen stars Sidney Poitier, Jimmy Walker and Cosby.
She remembered whispering, “This is Bill Cosby” to Samuelson, and Cosby playfully mimics her whisper and pretends to hold a leash from his dog.
She testified that after chatting for a while, Cosby invited them to watch him play tennis at a Los Angeles club the following Saturday. Hoth said they were “excited, because we were kids, and he was a celebrity. It was out of the ordinary, that was for sure.”
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The girls met Cosby at the club, where they briefly watched him play tennis and then went to the local house where he was staying. There, Cosby suggested that they play pool, and suggested the stakes.
Huth testified, “He said that in every match I lose I have to drink beer, and in every match he loses he has to drink beer.”
Hoth said she had between one and three beers.
“I’m sure I could feel the effects of the alcohol,” she said.
About an hour later, Cosby said he had a surprise for them, and they followed him in Samuelson’s Mustang to a gate, where the two cars were allowed in, Hoth said. Hoth said they stopped the car and entered a game room, where Buck Owens, country star and TV presenter Hee Howe, was shooting pool, but left after a few minutes.
She said she realized she was at the Playboy Mansion when she saw a graffiti on the wall signed, “To Hugh,” which she slowly realized was referring to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.
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When her lawyer asked her how she would react to being there, she answered only “Wow.”
She was shown a picture Samuelson had taken inside the game room.
“This is me and Bill Cosby,” she said.
The photo, essential to Hoth’s case, has already been shown to jurors several times. Cosby is shown wearing a red hat and smiling next to the teenage Hoth.
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Cosby’s lawyers admit that he took the girls to the mansion, but they denied that any sexual assault had taken place. They described Hoth’s suit as a scheme to profit from the photographs taken that day.
They have previously argued that Hoth was in fact 18 years old when the mansion was visited, making any violation less serious under California law.
Cosby’s lawyers did not say what evidence they would use to prove this, and stress the burden on the plaintiffs to prove the time of the visit.
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Huth allegedly changed her recollection of events just weeks before her trial, after her lawyers uncovered evidence that led them to believe she met Cosby in the film set in 1975, when she was 16, not in late 1973 or early 1974. When she was fifteen years old. .
The Associated Press contributed to this report.