Judge sets trial date in lawsuit accusing Bill Cosby of Playboy Mansion assault

Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., Thursday, June 8, 2017.

Matt Rourke/AP

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- A California court has tentatively set a July 30, 2018, date for trial of a lawsuit that accuses Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting a teenage girl at the Playboy Mansion more than four decades ago.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court judge set the distant date because Pennsylvania prosecutors are expected to retry a criminal case against Cosby following a jury deadlock less than two weeks ago. The Pennsylvania case alleges Cosby drugged and molested a Temple University worker.

In the California civil case, Judy Huth accuses the comedian of forcing her to perform a sex act on him in a bedroom at the mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Cosby has given a sealed deposition in the case. Huth's lawyer, Gloria Allred, has said the scheduling of a second deposition is on hold because of the criminal trial.

The comedian and actor once known as "America's Dad" for his TV role on "The Cosby Show" as paternal Dr. Cliff Huxtable has had his reputation tarnished with accusations of sexual abuse by nearly 60 women.

A mistrial was declared June 17 on charges Cosby drugged and molested Andrea Constand, the former Temple University director of women's basketball, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Cosby said the encounter was consensual.

After the hearing Tuesday in California, one of Cosby's lawyers told reporters his so-called town hall tour is unlikely to happen before his retrial on sex assault charges in Pennsylvania.

Spokespeople for Cosby and his wife had said the forums -- at least one planned in Birmingham, Alabama, next month when Cosby turns 80 -- were aimed at educating young people how to stay out of trouble and be aware of changing sex assault laws.

After those plans were criticized, though, a spokeswoman said the meetings were never intended to be about sexual assault but an effort to restore Cosby's legacy.

Attorney Angela Agrusa said she "can't imagine" Cosby's legal team would let him perform or speak publicly as representatives said he planned to do this summer.

"He doesn't take lightly these criminal charges," Agrusa said. "He would never do anything that undermined the importance of this issue. I don't see him speaking publicly like that."

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said by email that the legal team will not let him speak about sexual assault. 

"The current propaganda that I am going to conduct a sexual assault tour is false," Cosby said in a statement released through Wyatt Tuesday.  "Any further information about public plans will be given at the appropriate time."

judy-huth-bill-cosby-accuser.jpg

Judy Huth appears at a press conference with attorney Gloria Allred, not shown, outside the Los Angeles Police Department's Wilshire Division station Friday Dec. 5, 2014.

Anthony McCartney, AP

Talk of the forums after the mistrial sparked a backlash from groups that advocate for sexual assault victims and educate about sexual abuse.

Allred said if Cosby does stage public meetings, she may hold her own forums in those cities to discuss sexual assault.

"All I can say is, Mr. Cosby be careful what you wish for because if you go on that tour, I will be there," Allred said outside the Santa Monica courthouse.

Cosby is fighting lawsuits by 10 women on both coasts. Three have filed sexual battery or defamation cases in California, and seven have sued for defamation in Massachusetts, where Cosby has a home. He has denied any wrongdoing.