Cosby begins sex assault civil trial

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A lawyer for a woman who accused Bill Cosby of assaulting her at the Playboy Mansion in the mid-1970s has told a California jury the comedian had a sense of "entitlement", while Cosby's lawyer called the alleged assault a "fabrication".

The statements came at the start of a civil trial for Cosby, 11 months after he was freed from prison when Pennsylvania's highest court threw out his sexual assault conviction in a different case.

Cosby's current accuser, Judy Huth, sued him in 2014 for sexual assault, seeking unspecified damages. She said he brought her to the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles and forced her to perform a sex act around 1974, when she was 15.

Huth said she and a friend had met Cosby at a film set, and that Cosby invited the girls to meet him the next week, when he made Huth drink beer and molested her on a bed.

In his opening statement on Wednesday, Huth's lawyer Nathan Goldberg emphasised to the Santa Monica jury how Cosby was already a "star" when he met Huth, and he showed jurors a photo of them together from the day Huth said she was assaulted.

"He has a sense of entitlement, and no fear," Goldberg said, referring to Cosby. "He has a sense of invincibility."

Cosby's lawyer Jennifer Bonjean countered the alleged assault was a "fabrication", though Cosby did not dispute that he invited Huth and her friend to the mansion.

"The evidence is going to show that Ms Huth is not telling the truth," she said.

Cosby is not expected to attend the trial, which is expected to last about two weeks.

Cosby, 84, is best known for his role as the lovable husband and father in the 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show.

But his family-friendly reputation was shattered after more than 50 women accused him of sexual assaults over nearly five decades.

In 2018, Cosby was found guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, an employee at his alma mater Temple University in Philadelphia, in his home in 2004.

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court overturned Cosby's conviction in June 2021, after Cosby had served more than two years of a three- to 10-year sentence.

The court said Cosby should not have faced the charges because a previous local district attorney had publicly promised in 2005 not to prosecute him.

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