September 25, 2018
A judge sentenced the 81-year-old comedian for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004
Bill Cosby sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for sexual assault
Disgraced TV star Bill Cosby was sentenced to between three and 10 years in prison on Tuesday for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman over a decade ago.
He becomes the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be sent to prison.
Judge Steven O’Neill had already declared Bill Cosby a “sexually violent predator” on Tuesday morning, as a first step toward sentencing the 81-year-old comedian.
He will serve at least three years in state prison for violating Temple University women’s basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia estate in 2004.
“It is time for justice,” O’Neill told the court early Tuesday afternoon.
“Mr Cosby, your guilt has been determined by a jury. You were convicted of a very serious crime,” he said, adding that Cosby’s notoriety did not affect his ruling.
“I’m not permitted to treat him any differently because of who he is, or who he was,” he said. “Of course, the higher the ascent the sharper the fall. I recognize that impact upon Mr Cosby, and I am sorry for that.”
The sexually violent predator classification means that Cosby must undergo monthly counseling for the rest of his life and report quarterly to authorities. His name will appear on a sex offender registry sent to neighbors, schools and victims.
“Mr Cosby, this has all circled back to you,” O’Neill said. “The time has come.” He quoted from victim Constand’s own statement to the court, in which she said Cosby took her “beautiful, young spirit and crushed it”.
The sentencing followed years of accusations that he abused dozens of women.
O’Neill handed down the sentence at the Montgomery county courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, at the end of the two-day hearing.
Cosby was convicted earlier this year of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, becoming the first celebrity convicted on criminal charges since the 2017 advent of the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment.
In April, in a retrial, a jury found him guilty of sexually assaulting Constand.
In a victim impact statement released on Tuesday, Constand described how she was “at the top of her game” until the assault derailed her life.
“Life as I knew it came to abrupt halt,” she said. “The man I had come to know as a mentor and friend drugged and sexually assaulted me. Instead of being able to run, jump and pretty much do anything I wanted physically, during the assault I was paralyzed and completely helpless. I could not move my arms or legs. I couldn’t speak or even remain conscious. I was completely vulnerable, and powerless to protect myself.”
After the assault, she said, “the shame was overwhelming” and she retreated. “I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself,” she wrote.
Her job with the Temple University women’s basketball team still required her to interact with Cosby, a trustee at the school. “The sound of his voice over the phone felt like a knife going through my guts,” she said.
Constand said her life remained in turmoil throughout a civil suit and two criminal trials, but she takes comfort in knowing Cosby has been brought down. “We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator, but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over,” she wrote.
Bill Cosby sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for sexual assault
Still, Constand said the toll has been heavy. “I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to fully heal or to move forward,” she said.
The conviction and sentencing cap a precipitous fall for the man once known as “America’s Dad”, who starred in the popular Cosby Show in the 1980s and 90s.
The sentencing came just two days before Congress holds a public hearing for Donald Trump’s supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and at least one woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual violence. And it is almost a year since a multitude of women began coming forward to accuse movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of a litany of sexual crimes, including rape. His criminal case is ongoing.
Prosecutors asked for five to 10 years in state prison, citing the seriousness of his crime and his lack of remorse. Cosby’s lawyer asked for his sentence to be served as a continuation of his house arrest, saying he is “not dangerous” and too old and frail to spend time behind bars.
Constand, who considered Cosby a friend and mentor at the time of the assault, testified that he gave her three blue pills, which caused her to pass out. She awoke to find Cosby penetrating her with his fingers, touching her breasts and placing her hand on his genitals.
Cosby denied wrongdoing, and says his relationship with Constand was consensual.
Cosby, who has been portrayed by prosecutors as a criminal who has shown no remorse, intends to appeal against the verdict.
A trial on the same charges last year ended in a mistrial with a hung jury.
A psychologist called by prosecutors on Monday said Cosby’s interest in “non-consenting women” added up to a mental disorder and he was likely to repeat his crimes, recommending that he get the predator designation.
The case is the only one to result in criminal charges against Cosby, but more than 60 women have said he abused or harassed them, with many saying he drugged them and then molested them while they were incapacitated.
Five other women testified at Cosby’s trial that they were assaulted
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