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Bill Cosby Sued; Woman Alleges He Sexually Assaulted Her In 1974

By Kate Mather and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

LOS ANGELES — A California woman filed a lawsuit Tuesday against embattled comedian Bill Cosby, alleging he sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15 years old.

In the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Judy Huth of Riverside County said she met the comedian in 1974, after she and a 16-year-old friend wandered over to a movie set in a San Marino park where Cosby was working. Cosby allegedly approached the teenagers, invited them to sit in his director’s chair and asked how old they were, according to the lawsuit.

The comedian also invited the girls to his tennis club the following Saturday, according to the lawsuit. They met him there and followed him to another house, where Cosby allegedly “served them alcoholic beverages and played games of billiards” with Huth, the lawsuit alleges.

Huth alleged she was required to drink a beer every time Cosby won a game, according to the lawsuit.

After the teens were served “multiple alcoholic beverages,” the lawsuit claims, Cosby had them follow him to the Playboy mansion, telling the girls that if “any of the Playboy bunnies asked their age, they should say they were 19.”

At one point, Huth used a bathroom and emerged to find Cosby sitting on a bed, the lawsuit alleges.

The comedian asked Huth to sit down on the bed beside him and allegedly attempted to “put his hand down her pants,” according to the lawsuit. He then allegedly took the teen’s hand in his and performed a sexual act on himself “without her consent.”

Attorneys for Huth and Cosby did not immediately return calls for comment.

“This traumatic incident, at such a tender age, has caused psychological damage and mental anguish for plaintiff that has caused her significant problems throughout her life,” the lawsuit said.

Under California law, the most serious of sexual assaults involving minor victims can be charged criminally only when they occurred from 1988 onward.

Cosby, 77, is perhaps best known for his role as Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show, one of the first sitcoms centered on an affluent African-American family. The stand-up comedian became a well-known father figure.

He has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, including model Janice Dickinson. Many of the women said the assaults occurred decades ago.

The first allegations emerged when a Temple University staffer sued the comedian, saying he drugged and groped her during a 2004 visit to his Philadelphia home. During that case, 13 other women came forward with similar stories, according to published reports. But the woman’s attorneys settled the case out of court in 2006.

The allegations gained new momentum in October, when a comedian made fun of Cosby’s fatherly image in light of the sexual assault accusations. Other women, including Dickinson, then went public with their own allegations against Cosby.

Cosby has declined to discuss the allegations in several interviews. His attorney, Martin D. Singer, has criticized the media for publishing what he described as “unsubstantiated, fantastical stories.”

In a statement issued last week, before Huth’s lawsuit was filed, Singer said lawsuits “are filed against people in the public eye every day.”

“There has never been a shortage of lawyers willing to represent people with claims against rich, powerful men, so it makes no sense that not one of these new women who just came forward for the first time now ever asserted a legal claim back at the time they allege they had been sexually assaulted.”

In the wake of the recent wave of allegations, NBC dropped plans for a Cosby sitcom and Netflix postponed the launch of another Cosby project. TV Land also pulled reruns of The Cosby Show from its schedule.

AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary

LAPD Sergeant Defends Role In Handcuffing ‘Django Unchained’ Actress

By Kate Mather and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles police sergeant Monday defended his role in handcuffing and detaining an actress who alleged she was mistreated because of her race, saying he responded to a routine call that escalated when the woman refused to identify herself.

The Los Angeles Police Department has been criticized for Thursday’s detention of “Django Unchained” actress Daniele Watts and her boyfriend, celebrity chef Brian James Lucas, in Los Angeles’ Studio City section. Lucas wrote on Facebook that the police had acted as though the couple had been engaged in prostitution because Lucas is white and Watts is black.

But LAPD Sgt. Jim Parker, who responded to the call, said the thought “never crossed his mind.” In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Parker said he approached the couple because they matched a 911 caller’s description of two people having sex in a car parked on Radford Avenue.

“I wanted to go get coffee. I figured I could take care of this call and go get coffee and that was it,” Parker said, calling the incident a “long, drawn-out drama.”

“I was trying to ID them and leave — nobody wanted them arrested for having sex in public,” he said. “But then she went into her tirade.”

Lt. Andrew Neiman, a department spokesman, said officers contacted Watts and Lucas after receiving a 911 call complaining that a couple were having sex in a parked car on the street with the door open. The 911 caller described the couple as a black woman wearing a shirt and floral shorts and a white man with a black tank top, Neiman said.

Lucas and Watts did not return calls or text messages Monday from the Times, despite previously agreeing to an interview. The couple told CNN they stood by their actions and believed they did nothing wrong. Watts said she did not regret refusing to hand Parker her ID.

“I still feel strongly like I didn’t have to,” she said. “I feel that it raises awareness. I’m thankful for the experience. Not to say that I feel like I have to go through it again. But it’s causing a lot of discussion.”

A 24-minute audio recording obtained by the Times and verified by a law enforcement source familiar with the incident captures the encounter. Parker can be heard asking Lucas for his ID as Watts speaks to her father on the phone. When she stops the conversation to ask what’s going on, Parker explains that he was called to the scene in response to a call of “lewd acts.”

Watts insisted the couple had done nothing wrong.

“Somebody called, which gives me the right to be here, so it gives me the right to identify you by law,” Parker said, according to the recording, which was first published by celebrity news site TMZ.com.

“Do you know how many times I’ve been called, the cops have been called just for being black?” Watts said. “Just because we’re black and he’s white? I’m just being really honest, sir.”

“Who brought up the race card?” Parker said.

“I’m bringing it up,” she said.

“I said nothing about you being black,” Parker responded.

Watts told Parker she would inform her publicist and said she would not give her ID. At one point, she tried to get Parker to speak to her father on the phone.

Parker said that although Lucas presented his identification, Watts refused and walked away. LAPD officials verified his account.

“Thank you for bringing up the race card,” Parker said. “I never hear that.”

Parker radioed for officers down the street to bring Watts back. He told the Times that the other officers had to bring her back in their police car, given the distance that she walked, which was why they handcuffed her.

Parker and Lucas spent several minutes casually chatting as they waited for the officers to find and bring Watts back. They talked about Lucas’ work and how the couple met at a celebrity benefit. Lucas said he and Watts had been stopped before, calling it a “sensitive subject to her, the black and white.” He said she had never had a run-in with police before they started dating.

“She kind of did a similar thing,” he told the sergeant about a previous encounter. “She wouldn’t give him ID.”

Lucas said that being stopped by police was “not as sensitive to me because I understand it.”

At several points, Lucas joked with the sergeant. “You don’t want to deal with stuff like this. This is not a protect-and-serve issue,” he said, laughing.

When the other officers brought Watts back to the scene, she cried as she berated and cursed the police. She insisted the couple had only been “making out” and criticized whoever had complained.

“I bet there’s at least one person up there who’s a racist,” she said to Parker. “I bet you, you’re a little bit racist.”

In his interview with the Times, Parker, who is assigned to the department’s North Hollywood Division, said he was used to such allegations from his 25 years with the LAPD.

Watts was released after Lucas handed police Watts’ ID, and the officers determined they were not wanted on outstanding warrants. In the audio, Parker told Watts the encounter would have lasted just a few minutes had she identified herself earlier. He pointed out that Lucas, who had been cooperative, had not been handcuffed.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said an internal complaint investigation is being conducted into the matter, based on the public statements made by Watts and Lucas. He said the 911 call that prompted the stop would not be released, as the department does not release 911 tapes.

AFP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

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Police Shooting Tests South L.A.’s Fragile Goodwill Toward Cops

By Kate Mather and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Police Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger sat with increasing unease at a church in South Los Angeles as residents rose one at a time to berate his department.

The meeting had been called to reassure locals about how the LAPD and other agencies were investigating the recent fatal shooting of a mentally ill man in the neighborhood. But the event quickly boiled over into a critique of the LAPD, with residents accusing the department of racial profiling, excessive force, and dishonesty.

Paysinger, the LAPD’s highest-ranking black officer and a 40-year department veteran, was disturbed by the level of anger. So the morning after the community meeting, he drove to the LAPD’s Newton Division, where the fatal shooting occurred, and demanded an action plan.

“Where do we go from here?” Paysinger told the station captain. “I’m not interested in, ‘I don’t know, we’ve done everything.'”

Whether police officers acted properly when they fatally shot Ezell Ford Jr. in August remains under investigation. But the case has exposed lingering tensions and what some consider an erosion of the credibility and goodwill the LAPD has worked so hard for so long to build in South L.A.

“You think you’re in a good place,” Paysinger said. “But then you find yourself at that meeting. … It was patently clear to me that we need to get busy.”

Building trust in the African American community has been a top priority of the LAPD since the L.A. riots 22 years ago, which were sparked in part by the acquittal of four police officers caught on tape beating black motorist Rodney King. Even the LAPD’s harshest critics admit the department has made significant strides.

Those efforts also have been helped in no small part by a significant drop in crime across South L.A.

But John Mack, the former L.A. police commissioner and the retired president of the L.A. Urban League, said he worried that the reaction to Ford’s death showed a backslide in the relationship. He cited other recent incidents that he called “disturbing:” an officer recorded using a racial slur and yet allowed to remain on the force, and South Bureau officers who disabled in-car voice-recording equipment that was installed to monitor them. The recording issue came up at the Ford meeting.

“It’s leading some people to wonder: Is there a pattern? Are they moving back to old practices?” Mack said. “I feel it has become a case of five or six major, enormous steps forward … and we are now taking one or two steps backwards.”

The LAPD’s relationship with South L.A. is one that requires constant nurturing, Mack said. Chief Charlie Beck “developed street cred” with the community when he ran the South Bureau as deputy chief, Mack said, but needs to do more as the city’s top cop.

“That is a relationship that requires ongoing attention by the chief himself,” Mack said. “Despite all the goodwill that has been built up, all you need is one incident and things can go south in an instant.”

Beck attended the Aug. 20 community meeting and promised “as transparent and as rapid an investigation as is humanly possible in this circumstance.” But residents frequently interrupted Beck with shouts and jeers. One man called officers “gang bangers.” Others chanted, “Abolish the police, abolish the police.” The mention of Christopher Dorner — the ex-LAPD officer who blamed department racism for his firing before he went on a deadly rampage targeting police officers last year — prompted at least one person at the meeting to clap.

“That hurts, when people applaud that and make some of those statements,” said Steve Soboroff, the president of the Police Commission. “But we’re trying to get something out of it…. You have to get through that hurt and try to make things better. And hope the other person does the same.”

Soboroff — who described the meeting as a “Pandora’s box” — said that after he left the church that night, he called Beck and other commissioners to discuss their next steps. He called on the department to redouble community outreach efforts.

“Their perceptions, they are what they are,” he said. “We need to work on that.”

Several questions remain about the Aug. 11 death of Ford, a 25-year-old man shot and killed by two officers as he walked home. Police allege that he tackled one of the officers and reached for his gun, prompting both officers to open fire. But a witness who saw part of the incident said she saw no struggle.

Police Commissioner Robert Saltzman said investigating Ford’s death in a thorough and forthright way was crucial.

“For me, the most important question is how the department responds in situations like this one,” Saltzman wrote in an email. “It is important for the chief and the department to make the review of the use of force as transparent as possible.”

Some civil rights advocates believe the years of work between the LAPD and South L.A. residents helped prevent a more extreme backlash to the Ford shooting.

Connie Rice, a civil rights lawyer who has advised both Beck and his predecessor, now-New York police Commissioner William J. Bratton, said the dynamic between the LAPD and the black community is far different than it was years ago. Distrust and concerns still linger, she said, but that’s because there is so much history to overcome.

Decades ago, she said, a controversial shooting could prompt “an immediate explosion of protests.” The demonstrations after Ford’s death have been peaceful, a stark contrast to the violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., following the fatal police shooting of a black 18-year-old man. The shootings of Ford in Los Angeles and Michael Brown in Ferguson took place two days apart.

“When you have a bad shooting, instead of an explosion, heat, and friction, it is pretty quiet,” Rice said of Los Angeles. “That is because of a tiny reservoir of benefit of the doubt.”

Photo: Los Angeles Times/Luis Sinco

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Emotions Run High As Accused Killers Of USC Student Appear In Court

By Richard Winton and Kate Mather, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Two minors fought back tears during an emotional court hearing in downtown Los Angeles as they and two adults faced capital murder charges in the beating death of a University of Southern California graduate student.

Emotions ran high at Tuesday’s hearing as relatives of the group of four, age 19 to 16, sat in the audience a row way from the friends of deceased student Xinran Ji.

The family of one of the defendants, 18-year-old Andrew Garcia, repeatedly told reporters that he is innocent and had left home that day to go to the beach.

Garcia — along with Jonathan DelCarmen, 19; Alberto Ochoa, 17; and Alejandra Guerrero, 16 — each face one count of murder in connection with Ji’s death.

The four also face a special allegation that the death occurred during an attempted robbery. The juvenile suspects will be tried in adult court. It is the Los Angeles Times‘ policy not to publish the names of juvenile suspects unless they are charged as adults.

A criminal complaint alleges that Garcia, Ochoa, and Guerrero used a bat and a wrench in last Thursday’s attack. Sources told the Times that the student may have fled during an initial attack but was assaulted a second time.

Dressed in an orange shirt and pants, Ochoa fought back tears during the proceeding. Guerrero was similarly dressed and bowed her head, trying to hide her face under her hair.

Both were handcuffed and accompanied by probation officers.

All the defendants agreed to delay their arraignment until Aug. 12. Superior Court Judge Renee Korn denied bail for the defendants after the prosecutor noted it was a special circumstance murder case.

Rosalie Garcia, Andrew Garcia’s mother, mouthed “I love you” to her son from her fifth-row seat surrounded by her family. She clasped her hands tightly almost as in prayer.

“I love you, Andrew!” yelled a relative as the court session drew to a close.

Walking away, Garcia replied, “I love you guys.”

Rosalie Garcia said tearfully after the arraignment that her son “is a good boy.”

“He had no intentions of this happening,” she said. “His friend picked him up after dinner. He was going to the beach.”

Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty against Garcia and DelCarmen. Ochoa and Guerrero are not subject to the death penalty because of their age, prosecutors said, and instead would face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Under California law, prosecutors have discretion in certain crimes, including murder, to charge a minor as an adult. The courts, however, have ruled that minors are not subject to the death penalty.

Ji, an engineering student from China, was attacked about 12:45 a.m. Thursday as he walked home from a study group, authorities said. Despite a head injury, he managed to make his way back to his apartment a few blocks away, where a roommate later discovered his body.

Prosecutors allege that after attacking Ji, the suspects drove to Dockweiler Beach, where Ochoa, Garcia, and Guerrero approached a man and woman. The three robbed the woman, prosecutors allege, but the man managed to escape and flag down police officers patrolling the area.

The complaint alleges that Garcia, Guerrero, and Ochoa again used a bat at Dockweiler Beach and that Guerrero and Ochoa also used a knife. The three were charged with second-degree robbery, attempted second-degree robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with that incident, prosecutors said.

Detectives believe that a 14-year-old girl who was detained in connection with the Dockweiler Beach robbery also was involved in Ji’s assault “in some manner,” LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said Monday, though the “detail and depth” of her alleged involvement was not clear.

Photo via WikiCommons

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Elliot Rodger Claimed He Was Victim Of Homophobic Slur During Party

By Kate Mather and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Elliot Rodger claimed a group of men called him a homophobic slur during an altercation at an Isla Vista party nearly a year before his deadly rampage in Santa Barbara, according to newly released police records.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department report sheds new light on the July 20, 2013, incident in Isla Vista, in which deputies investigated Rodger’s claims he was pushed off a 10-foot ledge and then attacked. The report characterized the incident as a potential hate crime because Rodger said one of the attackers called him a derogatory term for a gay person.

Authorities determined it was Rodger who was the aggressor and dropped the case, sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover previously told the Los Angeles Times. In fact, one witness told authorities Rodger tried to push several people off the ledge for no apparent reason, according to the report.

The July altercation was the first of three interactions he had with Santa Barbara sheriff’s deputies before his rampage. The report raises new questions about why the Sheriff’s Department didn’t pursue an investigation of Rodger about the party incident.

Rodger wrote about the incident in his 137-page diatribe that surfaced after his May 23 attack, which left six University of California, Santa Barbara, students dead.

That night, Rodger told the deputies, he was at a house party on Del Playa Drive when he “got into a verbal altercation” with four men.

“During the altercation, he called one of the subjects ‘ugly’ prior to being pushed off a 10-foot-high ledge,” the report said.

Rodger said he stumbled to a nearby yard and sat down in a chair, according to the report. Several minutes later, he said, 10 men approached him, telling him to “Get the … out of here.”

“He said the subjects then grabbed him and dragged him toward the driveway kicking and punching him,” the report said. “He said he was able to punch one of the subjects before they stopped attacking him.”

Rodger suffered injuries to his forearms, elbows, knuckles and left ankle, the report said.

Rodger told the deputies he didn’t know why he had been attacked. When asked why he didn’t call police, the report said, he said he “didn’t know who to call.”

“During my contact with Rodger he appeared to be not forthcoming with me,” the deputy wrote. “He appeared timid and shy and would not go into great detail about what had occurred.”

However, a witness told deputies a man matching Rodger’s description had come to his friend’s house that night and “began to push two females” who were on top of the 10-foot ledge. The witness said he caught one of the girls before she fell; the other managed to drop to the ground before falling.

The man then pushed two more people, the witness said, before jumping off the ledge and running off.

The witness said he didn’t know what provoked the man, the report said. He said the man was alone at the party, that his “demeanor was strange and he did not appear to be socializing.”

In his own writing, Rodger admitted to trying to push the partygoers.

“I tried to push as many of them as I could from the 10-foot ledge,” he wrote. “It was one of the most foolish and rash things I ever did, and I almost risked everything in doing it, but I was so drunk with rage that I didn’t care.”

Rodger said a group of men then started to push him, causing him to fall to the street below. When he realized he was missing his Gucci sunglasses, he wrote, he tried to go back to the party but ended up in the front yard of the house next door.

There, he wrote, he encountered another group of people who “greeted me with vicious hostility,” calling him names and a homophobic slur.

“A whole group of the obnoxious brutes came up and dragged me onto their driveway, pushing and hitting me,” he wrote. “I wanted to fight and kill them all. I managed to throw one punch toward the main attacker, but that only caused them to beat me even more. I fell to the ground where they started kicking me and punching me in the face.”

“Eventually, some other people from the street broke up the fight,” he continued. “I managed to have the strength to stand up and stagger away.”

Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/MCT