By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
(NNPA) – Somewhere even Tarana Burke must be shaking her head.
The civil trial against comedian Bill Cosby in Los Angeles has been the antithesis of what the Bronx-born #MeToo founder had in mind when in 2006, she established a movement to call attention to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Hijacked by Hollywood, the #MeToo movement has centered on celebrities.
It has become a tool for apparent schemes to extort millions from popular personalities instead of pushing for global workplace equality and peace for women.
Cosby, whom the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled a year ago that his two criminal trials were illegal and tossed out a 2018 conviction against the entertainer, now awaits a civil jury in the somewhat dubious case of Judith Huth.
Huth claims Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion nearly a half-century ago. She said the one-time America’s Favorite Dad gave her and a friend the opportunity of coming on the set of the famous 1975 movie “Let’s Do It Again.”
In an earlier deposition, Huth first claimed that Cosby assaulted her in 1974 when he was filming “Uptown Saturday Night.”
Since allegations first surfaced against Cosby, leading to his first criminal trial in 2017, Huth had claimed the assault happened in 1974.
In prior depositions, Huth vowed that she was 15 when Cosby molested her but changed her story on the witness stand to say she was 16.
Cosby’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, grilled Huth on her medical records, which said the 64-year-old was previously diagnosed with major depressive disorder before 2014.
Huth and a friend testified they remembered the timing because they were playing the video game “Donkey Kong.”
However, as Bonjean highlighted, the video game didn’t debut until 1981.
Still, a civil jury appears to have found in favor of Huth, telling the judge that they had reached a verdict on 8 of 9 counts, with the only issue being how to calculate damages.
Because of a previous commitment and the failure to complete deliberations, one of the jurors was replaced by an alternate which recently forced the panel to restart discussions.
Huth and her attorney, Gloria Allred, are seeking millions of dollars in damages.
A website solicited more women to make accusations against Cosby, promising millions more payouts.
In the early stages of Cosby’s legal woes, Allred infamously called on women to come forward and demanded Cosby put up $100 million. That large sum led to more than 50 women accusing Cosby of sexual assault.
Cosby’s spokesman Andrew Wyatt called it a bounty and a shakedown. He said Allred’s tactics and Huth’s repeated misstatements should alarm everyone, including the #MeToo Movement.
Wyatt, who refers to Allred as “AwfulRed,” has noted the attorney has made a name for herself by going after African Americans.
Allred represented the family of Nicole Brown Simpson, the ex-wife of O.J. Simpson. A Los Angeles jury slapped O.J. Simpson with a more than $33 million civil judgment after a criminal jury acquitted the former football star of his ex-wife’s murder.
In 1993, Allred represented Jordan Chandler, the first child to publicly accuse the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, of sexual molestation.
Ten years later, Allred continued to attack Jackson by calling Child Protective Services and asking them to consider removing the singer’s children from his care.
Allred jumped into the fray when Tiger Woods was outed for extra-marital affairs. She represented Rachel Uchitel in a civil suit that Woods allegedly settled for millions of dollars.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, then-Republican frontrunner Herman Cain, an African American, faced sexual harassment allegations from Sharon Bialek, a white woman. Allred represented Bialek against Cain, whose campaign collapsed.
Wyatt raged about what he called Allred’s exploitation of Juneteenth, the anniversary of Union troops arriving in Texas to announce the end of the Civil War and the abolishment of slavery.
“Self-proclaimed and self-righteous civil rights attorney Gloria AwfulRed requested permission to speak and used the courtroom to exploit Juneteenth while attempting to extort Black American icon, actor, and comedian, Bill Cosby for millions of dollars,” Wyatt wrote in a statement.
“That Judge Craig Karlan would allow Gloria AwfulRed to utilize the commemoration of Juneteenth … was a slap in the face to Black America and the judge allowing Gloria AwfulRed to exploit the memory of those enslaved at the hands of their oppressor… Shame on Judge Karlan for giving [her] centerstage to advance her racism against Black people, and it showed that this civil trial isn’t about justice, but an obsession to destroy Mr. Cosby.”
Allred did not respond to requests for comment.
Burke also hasn’t responded to numerous requests.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), known as the Black Press of America, is the federation of more than 200 Black community newspapers in the United States.