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Attorneys representing disgraced actor Bill Cosby used what has been nicknamed the “Donkey Kong defense” during the ongoing civil trial against the actor, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at the playboy mansion in 1975.
The “Donkey Kong defense” came into play against on Monday, when Cosby’s attorney pressed a key witness over previous statements that she had played the arcade game during a visit with Cosby to the Playboy Mansion in 1975, six years before its release. The testimony came in the Los Angeles County trial over the lawsuit of Judy Huth, who also began testifying Monday, but did not yet describe her allegation that Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion when she was 16. Cosby denies her allegations.
Cosby was not required to attend the trial.
Donna Samuelson, a high school friend of Huth’s who accompanied her and Cosby on a visit to the mansion, returned to the stand Monday, testifying about the game room with an adjacent bedroom where Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act.
“You testified multiple times that you were playing Donkey Kong,” Cosby attorney Jennifer Bonjean told Samuelson, referring to a 2014 police interview and a 2016 deposition in Huth’s case.
“If I did, I did,” Samuelson said. “I understand it wasn’t around yet.”
Bonjean played a clip from the deposition, in which Samuelson referred to the game several times.
Asked Monday to explain the discrepancy, Samuelson answered, “I got the name wrong. I just kept saying that because it was a game. It could have been Atari.”
She also said she was playing the game when Cosby came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders before she shook them off.
Bonjean showed Samuelson and the jury a photo of the game room taken in 2016, where a Donkey Kong game could be seen, and asked whether similar photos taken years after 1975 could have affected her memory and testimony.
Samuelson replied that she hadn’t seen such an image until the 2016 photo was shown to her in court during her testimony last week.
Huth’s attorney, Nathan Goldberg warned jurors during his opening statements that they would be hearing “the Donkey Kong defense” from Cosby’s attorneys.
“So she got the name wrong,” Goldberg said, “so what?”
Bonjean embraced the term in her opening, saying Huth’s similar prior statements about Samuelson playing the game, and photos showing it in the room later, were evidence that the two women were coordinating a false story.
Huth, 64, briefly took the stand late Monday, recalling the spring day in 1975 when she and Samuelson took her brother’s dog to play frisbee at Lacy Park in San Marino, California, a place they frequented. She said they noticed a production was happening there that would turn out to be a shoot for the film “Let’s Do It Again.” They saw stars Sidney Poitier, Jimmie Walker and Cosby, Huth said.
She remembered whispering, “That’s Bill Cosby” to Samuelson, and Cosby playfully mimicking her whisper and pretending to be holding a leash of his own dog.
She testified that after chatting for a while, Cosby invited them to a watch him play tennis at a Los Angeles club the following Saturday. Huth said they were “excited, because we were kids, and he was a celebrity. It was out of the norm, that was for sure.”
The girls met Cosby at the club, where they briefly watched him play tennis then went to the local house where he was staying. There, Cosby allegedly suggested they play a game of pool, and suggested the stakes.
“He said for every game I lose I have to drink a beer, and for every game he loses he has to drink a beer,” Huth testified.
Huth said she had between one and three beers.
“I’m sure I felt the effects of the alcohol,” she said.
After about an hour, Cosby said he had a surprise for them, and they followed him in Samuelson’s Mustang to a gate, where the two cars were let in, Huth said. They parked and walked into a game room, where Buck Owens, country star and host of the TV show “Hee Haw,” was shooting pool, but left after a few minutes, Huth said.
She said she realized she was at the Playboy Mansion when she saw a drawing on the wall that was signed, “To Hugh,” slowly realizing that it referred to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.
Asked by her attorney what her reaction to being there was, she responded only with, “Wow.”
She was shown a photo taken by Samuelson inside the game room.
“That’s me and Bill Cosby, she said.”
The picture, essential to Huth’s case, has already been shown to jurors several times. It shows Cosby wearing a red beanie and smiling next to the teenage Huth.
Cosby’s attorneys acknowledge that he took the girls to the mansion, but deny any sex assault occurred. They have described Huth’s lawsuit as a scheme to cash in on the photos that were taken that day.
They previously argued that Huth was actually 18 when the mansion visit occurred, which would make any violation significantly less serious under California law.
Cosby’s attorneys have not said what evidence they will use to demonstrate this, and emphasize the burden is on the plaintiffs to prove when the visit happened.
Huth allegedly changed her recollection of events just weeks before her trial, after evidence uncovered by her attorneys led them to believe she met Cosby on the movie set in 1975, when she was 16, not in late 1973 or early 1974, when she was 15.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.