A judge declared the 81-year-old actor/comedian a 'sexually violent predator'
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby was Tuesday sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman over a decade ago in Pennsylvania.
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Judge Steven O’Neill sentenced Cosby on Tuesday, five months after his conviction in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.
Prosecutors were seeking a sentence of five to 10 years in prison. The defense asked for house arrest.
The 81-year-old comedian did not make a statement in court. Cosby sat back in his chair, his head on the headrest, as the sentence was read.
Earlier, a judge declared Cosby a “sexually violent predator” as he prepared to hand down the sentence.
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The 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.
Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill made the decision as he weighed the punishment for Cosby for violating Temple University women’s basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia estate in 2004.
Cosby declined the opportunity to address the court before the judge retreated to his chambers around noon to weigh the sentence. O’Neill said he would announce his decision early in the afternoon.
Cosby will spend the first few days of his prison sentence at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility outside Philadelphia.
Cosby left the suburban Philadelphia courthouse in a dark SUV after a judge sentenced the 81-year-old to three to 10 years in state prison for sexual assault.
A spokeswoman for the Montgomery County district attorney’s office says Cosby will be held at the county jail for at least the next few days. From there, he’ll be taken to SCI Phoenix, a new state prison outside Philadelphia, where staff will assess his physical, medical and security needs.
Cosby could end up in a long-term medical care unit.
The comic once known as America’s Dad for his role as wise and understanding Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s faced anywhere from probation to 10 years in prison after being convicted in April in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.
Cosby’s lawyers asked for house arrest, saying Cosby — who is legally blind — is too old and helpless to do time in prison. Prosecutors asked for five to 10 years behind bars, saying the comic could still be a threat to women.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele rejected the notion that “age, infirmity, should somehow equate to mercy.”
“He was good at hiding this for a long time. Good at suppressing this for a long time. So it’s taken a long time to get there,” Steele said.
Steele said Cosby used his fame and fortune to “hide his true self and hide his crimes,” intimidating his victims into keeping them silent for decades.
But the prosecutor said “justice was served” after a judge sentenced Cosby on Tuesday to three to 10 years in state prison.
Chief accuser Andrea Constand stood next to Steele at a news conference but did not address the media.
Cosby was convicted in April of knocking Constand out with pills and molesting her at his suburban Philadelphia home.
In the years since Constand first went to police in 2005, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, though none of those claims have led to criminal charges. At least two of those women, including former model Janice Dickinson, were in the courtroom for the start of the sentencing.
Prosecutors had hoped to have some of the other accusers address the court at the hearing. But the district attorney’s office told The Associated Press that that would not happen.
A few hours before the hearing, Constand tweeted Ephesians 4:26, a Bible verse about letting go of anger: “Be wrathful, but do not sin; do not let the sun set while you are still angry; do not give the Devil an opportunity.”
Cosby’s wife is claiming a prosecutor used “falsified evidence” to win a conviction against him.
Camille Cosby released a statement after her husband was sentenced and claimed Steele, at trial, presented doctored audio of a recorded phone conversation between Cosby and the accuser’s mother. She says the defense team plans to raise the issue on appeal.
Steele rejected the allegation, saying: “It that’s what they’ve got, it’s beyond a hail Mary.”
Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt, meanwhile, says the 81-year-old comedian is “doing great” after learning his sentence.
Wyatt says Cosby “knows that these are lies,” adding: “You know what this country has done to black men for centuries.”
Cosby, who grew up in public housing in Philadelphia, became the first black actor to star in a prime-time TV show, “I Spy,” in 1965. He remained a Hollywood A-lister for much of the next half-century, hitting his peak in the 1980s with the top-rated “Cosby Show” as the warm, wisecracking dad, Dr. Cliff Huxtable.
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, which Constand and other accusers have done.
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