Like O.J. Simpson, former Broncos cornerback Perrish Cox avoided a conviction on criminal charges that appeared to be open and shut. Like O.J. Simpson, Cox may be less fortunate in civil court.
According to the Associated Press, Cox and Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas have been sued by a woman who became impregnated after allegedly passing out at Cox’s apartment in September 2010. The DNA of the fetus matched Cox, who denied to police having sex with the woman.
Cox was nevertheless acquitted earlier this year. He has since signed with the 49ers.
The specific civil claims against each man aren’t known; collectively, the suit advances legal theories including battery, sexual assault and battery, aiding and abetting tortious conduct, conspiracy, outrageous conduct, and negligence. The lawsuit also reportedly makes reference to the allegation that the victim, who sued under a Jane Doe pseudonym, was drugged.
Suing both players will potentially pit the two of them against each other, forcing them to try to blame one another in order to escape liability.
Because Cox already has faced criminal charges, he can’t invoke the Fifth Amendment in the civil case. Thomas, in theory, can rely upon the privilege against self-incrimination, since has not yet been charged with any crime. Doing so, however, would serve only to make him look guilty in the eyes of the jury handling the civil case.
For both players, a much lower standard of proof applies in the civil context. While a criminal conviction may occur only with proof beyond a reasonable doubt, civil liability applies based on a preponderance of the evidence, which means that the weight of the evidence must tip ever so slightly in the plaintiff’s direction for the case to be proven.