Bill Cosby Was Sentenced To Between 3 And 10 Years In Prison

The 81-year-old comedian was sentenced as multiple women who have also accused him of assault looked on, Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to between three and 10 years in prison for raping Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. He will also be required to register as a sexual predator for life, becoming the first major celebrity of his stature to be sentenced for assault in the #MeToo era. The 81-year-old comedian, who was sentenced as multiple accusers, in addition to Constand, looked on from the audience, will also have to pay fines and court costs. He had faced up to 30 years in prison, but that dropped to a maximum 10 years after attorneys agreed to merge three counts into one.

“Equal justice under the law” means Cosby should not be sentenced differently based on “who he is or who he was,” Judge Steven O’Neil said. He added: “No one is above the law and no one should be treated differently or disproportionately based on where they live or who they are,” or based on “wealth, celebrity, philanthropy.” Cosby never denied having sexual contact with Constand, but insisted it was consensual. His attorney, Joseph P. Green, had sought house arrest, saying Cosby is legally blind and cannot live unassisted.

“I don’t remember anyone ever sentencing a blind octogenarian to state prison,” Green said. But Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele pushed for the maximum, pointing to what he said was Cosby’s lack of remorse, while also reminding the court of the comedian’s wealth and resources. “He was good at hiding this for a long time, he was good at suppressing this, so it’s taken a long time to get there,” Steele said. “But in the considerations he asked for, I would ask the court to weigh what was done to Andrea Constand and her family.”

O’Neil apparently agreed, telling Cosby during his sentencing that “some might say you were old back then when you assaulted Andrea Constand.”

More than 60 women have accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them over the span of decades, but Constand’s allegation was the only criminal case to be brought, in large part because most of the accusations were too old to prosecute. Cosby was convicted in April of drugging and raping Constand, who his defense team tried to paint as a con artist who showed romantic interest in the comedian in order to concoct false assault allegations and secure a nearly $3.4 million civil settlement, at one point calling her a “pathological liar.” But prosecutors were able to call on five other accusers who testified that they too were drugged by Cosby. Four of them, including model Janice Dickinson, said they were also sexually assaulted.

Constand addressed the court only once for the sentencing hearing, telling the judge on Monday that “all I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit.” But in her longer victim impact statement, she recalled how she went from a pro athlete with a promising career, to being unable to “eat, sleep, or socialize” after the assault.

“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it,” Constand wrote. “He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.” Cosby, who will also have to attend sex offender counseling for the rest of his life and be subject to community notification if he’s ever released, never addressed the court, nor did his attorneys call character witnesses to speak on his behalf. But his legal team has reportedly already filed papers in an effort to keep him out of prison during an appeal.

In that testimony, he admitted to giving women quaaludes, a powerful sedative, as a prelude to sex. Dozens of accusers pointed to the transcript as vindication of their claims, and public pressure to file charges in Constand’s case, which was still within the statute of limitations, increased. Dozens of women also started coming forward with their stories of being drugged and assaulted by Cosby. The first criminal trial against him ended in a mistrial when the jury couldn’t reach a verdict. But his retrial occurred after the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal broke and sparked the #MeToo movement. And more of his accusers were allowed to testify, bolstering Constand’s allegations.

In her victim’s statement, Constand said that whatever happens now, “his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.”

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