September 24, 2018
The entertainer could face years in prison after being convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in Pennsylvania
Bill Cosby sentencing hearing caps fall from grace for Americas Dad
Bill Cosby is facing prison time as he is sentenced this week for sexual assault, capping a stunning fall from grace for a man who was once one of America’s most popular entertainers.
Cosby is due in court for a two-day sentencing hearing beginning on Monday, where Judge Steven O’Neill will decide his fate at the Montgomery county courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
More than 60 women have accused the 81-year-old Cosby – a once-beloved actor and comedian known as “America’s Dad” – of sexual assault, but it’s a single case, the only one to result in criminal charges, that could land him behind bars.
Cosby was convicted in April on three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in the suburbs of Philadelphia in 2004.
He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison on each charge, but state guidelines recommend a sentence of about one to four years.
Constand, who had gotten to know Cosby when she was managing the women’s basketball team at Temple University, testified that the TV star gave her three blue pills, which caused her to pass out. She awoke to find Cosby digitally penetrating her, touching her breasts, and placing her hand on his genitals.
The trial – his second, after the jury in a first trial failed to reach a verdict – was the first of a celebrity accused of sexual assault since the beginning of the #MeToo movement.
Cosby plans to appeal against the conviction, and his lawyers will probably argue for leniency considering his age and frail health. He is legally blind.
But prosecutors are expected to paint him as a serial and unrepentant sexual predator, who has never admitted wrongdoing. The hearings will also determine whether Cosby is designated a sexually violent predator.
The former entertainer – once known for his starring role on The Cosby Show – has never admitted guilt. He maintains his encounters with Constand and other women were consensual.
Cosby and his legal team have tangled repeatedly with the judge in the case.
They filed a motion this month demanding that O’Neill recuse himself from the case before sentencing, accusing him of bias because of an alleged grudge against a former prosecutor, Bruce Castor, who previously declined to prosecute Cosby and testified at a pre-trial hearing in the current case. Cosby’s wife, Camille, also filed an ethics complaint against the judge.
In a ruling last week, O’Neill refused to step down, calling the claim of bias “unsubstantiated” and “meritless”. “No ‘grudge’, animus, bias or prejudice can be claimed because it simply does not exist,” he wrote.
At Cosby’s trial, five women besides Constand testified that he had assaulted them.
The judge barred a request by prosecutors to call a parade of accusers to testify at the sentencing hearing.
Prosecutors said they would “present numerous witnesses who will testify that defendant sexually abused them” and argued those “uncharged crimes” were relevant to establishing Cosby’s character and as a danger to the community. But the defense argued that “allegations of misconduct that are more than 20 years old” were not relevant to protecting the public “from an 81-year-old unsighted man”.
It is possible, however, that the women who appeared at the trial will testify again at sentencing. Cosby will also have a chance to speak on his own behalf if he chooses.
The disgraced entertainer has been under house arrest since his conviction. At sentencing, the judge will also have to decide whether he can remain free on bail while he pursues an appeal.
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