Justice

Judge rules Bill Cosby is ‘sexually violent predator,’ sentences him to 3-10 years in prison

The man known for decades as ‘America’s Dad’ was led out of a Pennsylvania courtroom in handcuffs on Tuesday

Bill Cosby, the actor and comedian who for decades was known as “America’s Dad,” was sentenced to between 3 and 10 years in prison on Tuesday afternoon. Judge Stephen O’Neill handed down the sentence in a Pennsylvania courtroom. The disgraced entertainer, 81, showed no emotion when the sentence was delivered, according to a local TV reporter who was in the courtroom. Moments later, he reportedly burst out laughing.

Prosecutors had asked for Cosby to be given a prison sentence of five to 10 years. Defense lawyers had called for a sentence of house arrest and then following the verdict argued he should be given bail while his appeal is pending. They said he’s too old to go to prison and bolstered the argument by saying he is legally blind.

O’Neill denied bail and ordered Cosby to go to jail immediately, saying the comedian is “quite possibly be a danger to the community.” Cosby was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Prior to issuing the sentence, O’Neill told the courtroom that ruled Cosby is a “sexually violent predator,” echoing the findings earlier this year of Pennsylvania’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, which recommended the classification after analyzing the litany of crimes he’s been accused of over a span of decades. The formal designation requires Cosby to undergo counseling for the rest of his life and report to authorities on a quarterly basis. In addition, his name will be added to the sex offender registry and will be distributed to neighbors and schools nearby his residence.

The former Cosby Show star was convicted in April of three counts aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. It was the second time Cosby had been put on trial for the crime. His first trial in 2017 ended in a hung jury. Cosby has been accused of various forms of sexual misconduct by some 60 women, but has continued to maintain his innocence despite his conviction.

Also on Tuesday, Andrea Constand’s victim impact statement was made public for the first time. The 45-year-old wrote a powerful testimony on the toll the crime has taken on her life. “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 the statement. She also touched on grappling with the difficult choice to come forward with the accusations and alluded to Cosby’s many other accusers.

“I wanted to do the right thing, even if it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. When the first trial ended in a mistrial, I didn’t hesitate to step up again,” she wrote. “I know now that I am one of the lucky ones. But still, when the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities,” the statement read. “Now, almost 15 years later, I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.”

Read the full statement here, or embedded in the tweet below.

As he made his way into and out of court over the last two days, the disgraced comedian was greeted by both supporters and detractors. One woman was seen outside the courthouse holding a T-shirt that read, “We ♥️Bill Cosby.” Constand was on hand as well, as were other women who have accused him of sex crimes, including former supermodel Janice Dickinson and Chelan Lasha, another of Cosby’s accusers who testified against him during his trial earlier this year. In the hallway outside the courtroom after the sentence was handed down, Dickinson and Constand embraced.

After Cosby left the courthouse to head to prison, his publicist Andrew Wyatt issued a statement. Holding an umbrella under a steady rain, Wyatt told reporters, “Mr. Cosby’s doing great and Mr. Cosby knows that God is watching over him. He knows that these are lies. They persecuted Jesus and look what happened.” He then went on to blast the entire judicial proceeding and accused Stephen O’Neill, the judge who presided over Cosby’s trial and sentencing, of being biased and accused some of Cosby’s accusers of being “white women who make money off of accusing black men of being sexual predators.”

“I believe and think it is important to point out that this has been the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States.” Wyatt then tied the Cosby sentencing to the drama surrounding the Brett Kavanaugh hearings that have been rocking Washington D.C. since last week when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused the Supreme Court nominee of drunkenly sexually assaulting her when the two were teenagers. “What is going on in Washington today with Judge Kavanaugh is part of a sex war that Judge O’Neill, along with his wife, are a part of,” Wyatt declared. Later on Thursday, authorities released Cosby’s booking photo.

A day earlier at Cosby’s sentencing hearing, Constand’s mother, Gianna Constand, told the court at the first stage of Cosby’s sentencing hearing on Monday about the lasting impact Cosby’s crime has had on her daughter and others, according to The Associated Press. “The victims cannot be un-raped,” she said. “Unfortunately, all we can do is hold the perpetrator accountable,” she continued, adding that her daughter’s personality was forever changed after the assault by Cosby.

Below, watch video of Cosby leaving the courtroom in handcuffs.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

Related

Bill Cosby is a ‘violent sexual offender,’ board says after evaluation

Andrea Constand gives 1st public interview about her allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby

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