by Elyse Dupre | Tue., Sep. 25, 2018 11:14 AM
Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison on Tuesday for sexual assault.
Judge Steven T. O'Neill delivered the sentence. Cosby will also be required to pay $25,000 within the first 12 months, as well as the cost of prosecution.
"Nobody is above the law because of where they live, who they are, wealth, fame, celebrity or even philanthropy," the judge said.
The sentencing guidelines are between 22 and 36 months for a standard sentence. The actor will be held in total confinement in a state facility. He will also be required to take a sex offenders program.
"Any lesser sentence would take away from the seriousness of the crime," the judge continued. He later added that he gave "great weight" to the victim-impact statement, including the "traumatic aftermath, alienation from friends, pain, anguish, [and] nightmares" Andrea Constand experienced.
"34 months this has gone on," the judge said. "Your time has come."
In addition, Cosby cannot have any contact with Constand.
While the defense motioned for discretionary release or bail, the judge ultimately denied this application, noting the seriousness of the crime and that Cosby could pose a threat to the community. However, O'Neill agreed to revisit this application if a post-sentence motion is filed.
After the decision was read, Cosby took off his jacket and tie and was spotted laughing with his attorneys. Meanwhile, there was no visible reaction from Constand. However, Janice Dickinson, who testified against Cosby during his retrial, said she felt "victorious" and "vindicated." She also said she was "grateful" for the judge's decision and was seen hugging Constand.
"This poor woman who was raped when she was 17 years old. She was a virgin. She collapsed in court. She was absolutely victorious today," she said.
Montgomery County Correctional Facility
Mark Makela/Getty Images
The comedian was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand in 2004. He has denied any wrongdoing and claimed their encounter was consensual. While the case went to trial in 2017, a deadlocked jury failed to reach a verdict, resulting in a mistrial. The case was later retried, and The Cosby Show star was found guilty on three charges of aggravated indecent assault in April. However, counts two and three were later merged into count one during day one of the sentencing.
Cosby arrived at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. around 8:30 a.m. on Monday for the first day of sentencing. According to The New York Times, several women who accused Cosby of sexual abuse, including a few who testified against him in April, also attended.
The hearing began with an examination of whether it was constitutional to label Cosby a sexually violent predator. Pennsylvania's Sexual Offenders Assessment Board determined Cosby should be classified as such in July.
According to CNN, Cosby's attorney, Joseph Green, argued the sex offender registration law was unconstitutional and that it should not be applied to Cosby because it was punitive. Commonwealth attorney Tracy Piatkowski countered the laws were not punitive but rather required to protect the public. Per CNN, she also claimed Cosby was merely trying "to escape" registration.
Kristen F. Dudley, a psychologist and member of the Pennsylvania Sex Offenders Assessment Board, also testified. Based on her assessment, she claimed Cosby is a sexually violent predator. Although, she noted he chose not to participate in the assessment.
Dudley claimed Cosby has a personality disorder and experiences paraphilia—leading him to have interest in nonconsenting women. The defense argued there hadn't been any new accusations of misconduct against Cosby since Constand's claim 14 years ago. In addition, Cosby's team claimed his blindness would likely prevent him from committing a crime. Still, Dundley argued otherwise.
"It is possible he has already met someone who could be a future victim," she said.
Judge O'Neill ruled the sexually violent predator assessment and relating registration laws were constitutional. However, he wouldn't rule whether Cosby should be classified as a sexually violent predator until the next day.
Later, Constand took the stand. She kept her statement brief, noting she had already given her testimony during the retrial.
"All I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit," she said.
However, prosecutors later released her five-page victim-impact statement.
"Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it," she wrote. "He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature and my trust in myself and others."
Constand’s letter: “To truly understand the impact that the sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened.” pic.twitter.com/dKxwo8UmW7— Laura McCrystal (@LMcCrystal) September 25, 2018
Constand's mother, Gianna Constand, also read a letter to the court. Constand's father, Andrew Constand, and her sister, Diana Parsons read statements, as well.
"This has been a very difficult situation and I lost the ability to trust anyone," the matriarch said. "I don't think Bill Cosby has ever considered the pain and suffering this has caused us."
Afterwards, Green proceeded to defend Cosby.
"Mr. Cosby is not dangerous," he said. "An 81-year-old blind man is not self-sufficient."
While Green said his team wanted Cosby to participate in a program, they did not see how he could "fight off people trying to extort him" at his age.
Still, the prosecution's Kevin Steele said Cosby should "serve [the] sentence that he has earned."
"It is who he is behind the mask," Steele said, his voice quivering and his eyes filling with tears.
He later added that the prosecution was seeking the maximum sentence of five to 10 years in state prison—as well as a $25,000 fine and costs of prosecution—because Cosby showed "no acceptance of responsibility for his actions" and "no remorse."
"Nobody is above the law," he said. "Nobody."
The hearing ended shortly after and resumed on Tuesday at 9:15 a.m.
Cosby arrived for his second day of sentencing around 8:30 a.m.
Dudley was again called to speak. Defense psychologist Timothy Foley then contradicted Dudley's claims regarding Cosby having a personality disorder. He also dismissed her prediction that Cosby could commit a crime in the future.
"I found him to be extraordinarily low risk," Foley said, per The New York Times, noting he had met with Cosby for three hours in July and reviewed his records. Although, Foley admitted he hadn't read the trial records or depositions in the case.
Per The New York Times, prosecutor M. Stewart Ryan asked Foley if he was aware Cosby had admitted to receiving seven prescriptions of quaaludes to give to women for sex. Foley claimed he was not aware. He also claimed he didn't know five other women had testified against Cosby during the last trial and accused him of assaulting them.
Based upon the testimonies and statutory definitions, Judge O'Neill ultimately declared Cosby a sexually violent predator. As a result, the actor will have to register with state police for the rest of his life and provide them with his current residence, employment and student information should he ever enroll in school. He will also have to inform authorities of all temporary dwellings. Even if the comedian becomes homeless or is in a transient location, he must disclose his whereabouts. Failure to comply will result in a felony.
In addition to being obtained by the police, Cosby's name, address and other identifiable information will be made available to the public.
Cosby was then given the opportunity to speak; however, he ultimately decided not to address the court. The judge then retreated to his chambers to make a final decision. While the media expected the judge to announce the sentencing by 1:30 p.m., the decision didn't come until after 2:00 p.m.
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
Constand's allegations date back to January 2004, when she was an administrator for the women's basketball team at Cosby's alma mater, Temple University. Constand claimed she visited Cosby's Philadelphia house for career advice and was drugged and sexually assaulted by him.
"I was kind of, um, jolted awake, and felt Mr. Cosby on the couch behind me, and my vagina was being penetrated quite forcefully," Constand testified in April. "I felt my breasts being touched. And he took my hand, and placed my hand on his penis, and masturbated himself with my hand. And I was not able to do anything about it."
According NBC News, Constand is one of at least 60 women to accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct.
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