(AP) — The “Donkey Kong defense” came into play Monday at a civil trial over sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, as his 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 trial over the lawsuit of Judy Huth, who alleges Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion when she was 16. Cosby denies her allegations.
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.
“I was playing pinball and Donkey Kong,” she says at one point in the video.
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.
During his opening statement on Wednesday, Huth’s attorney Nathan Goldberg sought to head off the issue, telling jurors they were going to be hearing “the Donkey Kong defence” from Cosby’s lawyers.
“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.
Samuelson testified last week that she hadn’t noticed that Cosby and Huth had gone into a bedroom, but that Huth told her after Cosby left the two friends alone that he had molested her.
The trial represents one of the last remaining legal claims against Cosby after his Pennsylvania criminal conviction was thrown out and other lawsuits were settled by his insurer against his will.
Cosby’s attorneys acknowledge that he took the girls to the mansion, but deny any sex assault occurred. Photos taken by Samuelson show the comedian and Huth together. They say visitors logs show it was on April 5, 1975.
Bonjean also challenged Samuelson over the timing of the visit, changing in her and Huth’s accounts by about a year.
The initial lawsuit filed in 2014 alleged that the incident took place in late 1973 or 1974, when Huth was 15 and Samuelson 16. A few weeks before the trial began, Huth and her attorneys said that further investigation of the evidence allowed them to determine that it actually happened in the spring of 1975, when Huth was 16 and Samuelson 17.
“You always knew you were a senior in high school when you met Mr Cosby, right?” Bonjean asked. Samuelson answered yes.
“So you knew you weren’t 16?” Bonjean asked.
“I didn’t realise that I said the wrong year,” Samuelson said. She added that when she spoke to Huth about the incident for the first time in decades in 2005, “she said she was 15 and I was 16 and I went along with it.”
Huth has yet to testify in the trial, but is expected to take the stand soon after Samuelson.
The Associated Press does not normally name people who say they have been sexually abused, unless they come forward publicly, as Huth has.