Judge Puts Bill Cosby Away for 3 to 10 Years
By Sean Philip Cotter
September 26, 2018
|Bill Cosby, center right, leaves the courtroom after he was sentenced to three-to 10-years for sexual assault on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. (Mark Makela/Pool Photo via AP)|
Bill Cosby will spend up to a decade behind bars as the man who once was one of the great icons of American pop culture was legally designated as a “sexually violent predator.”
Judge Steven O’Neill sentenced the 81-year-old disgraced comedian to 3 to 10 years in prison for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004 at his Philadelphia estate.
“It is time for justice. Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The time has come,” O’Neill said during the hearing.
Over the past few years, upwards of 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, turning the nation against one of its most widely beloved celebrities — a man who had been regarded as wholesome and was admired for one of the first portrayals of a well-to-do black family on TV.
“He was America’s dad on ‘The Cosby Show,’?” Boston University communications professor Tobe Berkovitz told the Herald yesterday. “Now he represents betrayal — betrayal of what we thought was good in America.”
The sentence comes after a Pennsylvania jury in April convicted Cosby on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
“The successful criminal prosecution of Bill Cosby will have an immeasurable positive impact on countless generations to come,” said attorney Mitchell Garabedian, an advocate for victims of sexual assault. “This is an inspiration for victims to come forward no matter how powerful the predator is. It’s a moment of empowerment.”
In the courtroom, Cosby declined the opportunity to speak before the sentence came down, and afterward sat laughing and chatting with his defense team. His wife of 54 years, Camille, was not in court. Constand smiled broadly on hearing the punishment and was hugged by others in the courtroom.
Cosby’s lawyers asked that he be allowed to remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction, but the judge appeared incredulous over the request and ordered him locked up immediately, saying that “he could quite possibly be a danger to the community.”
The comedian — who is legally blind and uses a cane — removed his watch, tie and jacket and walked out in a white dress shirt and red suspenders, his hands cuffed in front of him. He appeared downcast, his eyes failing to meet the camera, in a mug shot released by authorities.
Cosby must serve the minimum of three years before becoming eligible for parole, which would account for the remainder of the 10 years whenever he’s released.
“For decades, the defendant has been able to hide his true self and hide his crimes using his fame and fortune. He’s hidden behind a character he created, Dr. Cliff Huxtable,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said at a news conference, referring to Cosby’s best-known role. But “now, finally, Bill Cosby has been unmasked, and we have seen the real man as he is headed off to prison.”
Herald wire services contributed to this report.