US prosecutor won't charge Cosby over decades-old Playboy mansion sex claim

Bill Cosby in a Mar 16, 2009 file photo as he speaks at the Jackie Robinson Foundation annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. The comedian has been the subject of more than a dozen sex abuse allegations over the past two month
Bill Cosby in a Mar 16, 2009 file photo as he speaks at the Jackie Robinson Foundation annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. The comedian has been the subject of more than a dozen sex abuse allegations over the past two months. -- PHOTO: AFP 

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Bill Cosby, who has been the subject of more than a dozen sex abuse allegations over the past two months, will not be charged in connection with a 1974 molestation claim, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said on Tuesday.

Prosecutors concluded that the allegations that The Cosby Show star sexually molested a 15-year-old girl at the Playboy Mansion were too old and surpassed the state's statute of limitations for either a felony or misdemeanour charge. "Given that 40 years have passed since the alleged incident, prosecution...is declined due to the expiration of the statue of limitations," the official charge evaluation document states.

The accuser, Judy Huth, now 56, has also sued Cosby in Los Angeles, alleging that Cosby made her drink beer before molesting her in a bedroom at the Los Angeles mansion.

Cosby, 77, has yet to be charged and the allegations against him, which date as far back as the 1960s, are too old for most criminal charges or civil complaints.

His attorney Marty Singer has called allegations against the trailblazing African-American comedian "discredited" and "defamatory". Singer and Cosby's publicist did not immediately response to requests seeking comment on Tuesday about the prosecutor's decision.

Cosby's wife and one of his four daughters have defended him in public statements over the past two days.

Evin Cosby, 38, said in a statement that Cosby "is the father you thought you knew", echoing the statement of her mother, Camille Cosby, who publicly defended her husband for the first time on Monday.

The statements by Camille and Evin Cosby have drawn on the comedian's affable television persona as the wholesome father Dr Cliff Huxtable on the top-rated series The Cosby Show. The comedian, who has largely remained silent, has had two television projects shelved and several standup performances cancelled since the numerous allegations started last month.

In 2006, he settled a lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct. Another accuser, Tamara Green, has sued Cosby for defamation.

Cosby's most high-profile accusers include models Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson. Dickinson alleges Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 1982 while Johnson alleges Cosby drugged her in the mid-1980s.