Comedian and actor Bill Cosby was sentenced today to three to ten years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting an actress at his home in 2004. Cosby was taken directly into custody in handcuffs, and his bail revoked, once the verdict was announced.
“This was a serious crime,” Judge Steven O’Neill of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, said. “Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come, the time has come.”
The charges stem from an incident fourteen years ago when Cosby gave actress Andrea Constand pills which incapacitated her and then sexually assaulted her. She reported the incident the following year but prosecutors declined to bring charges. The case was settled in civil court in 2006.
Ten years later, dozens of women came forward to accuse Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them over a period of several decades. Constand’s was the only case for which the statute of limitations had not yet run out. A new team of prosecutors reviewed the case and decided to press charges and Cosby was arrested in December 2015.
The first criminal trial against Cosby ended with a hung jury. In April, a second trial ended with a conviction of Cosby of three counts of aggravated indecent assault of Constand. The trial captured the attention of the nation as Cosby, once known as “America’s Dad” became one of the highest profile celebrities to become embroiled in the MeToo Movement.
“No one is above the law, and no one should be treated differently or disproportionally,” O’Neill said.
In addition to the prison sentence, Cosby was ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 plus the costs of prosecution. Cosby has also been designated as a “sexually violent predator,” which requires lifetime registration, lifetime mandatory sex offender counseling and notification to the community that a “sexually violent predator” lives in the area.
Cosby’s spokesperson Andrew Wyatt had harsh words for the media, judge and prosecutors after the verdict was announced. He called the trial “the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States.” He said Cosby was doing well because “he knows that these are lies.”
“They persecuted Jesus and look what happened. [I’m] not saying Mr. Cosby’s Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries,” Wyatt said.
“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature and my trust in myself and others,” Constand wrote in a victim impact statement, which Judge O’Neill said had bearing on her decision on the sentence.
“I have given great weight to the victim impact testimony in this case, and it was powerful,” he said.
The prosecution has asked O’Neill to sentence Cosby to five to ten years, saying he has shown “no remorse” for his actions. Cosby’s defense attorney, Joseph Green, had asked for a sentence of house arrest, citing Cosby’s age and blindness.
The three charges each carried with them a maximum sentence of ten years but Judge O’Neill decided to merge the sentences because they all stem from the same event. Cosby had remained free on $1 million bail. His legal team said they planned to appeal.
Photo by Montgomery County Planning Commission via Flickr