Bill Cosby was sentenced to between three and 10 years in prison on Tuesday for sexually assaulting a woman, capping the once-beloved comedian’s downfall from “America’s Dad” to convicted felon. Cosby, 81, was found guilty in April of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for the drugging and sexual assault of his one-time friend Andrea Constand, a former Temple University administrator, at his Philadelphia home in 2004.
He was the first celebrity to be convicted for sexual abuse since the start of the #MeToo movement, the national reckoning with misconduct that has brought down dozens of powerful men in entertainment, politics and other fields. His lawyers have already vowed to appeal the conviction. Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven O’Neillalso decided to designate Cosby a “sexually violent predator”under Pennsylvania law.
Under that designation, Cosby will have to undergo monthly counseling and register as a sex offender with police for the rest of his life. Neighbours and schools will be notified of his address and crimes. More than 50 other women have also accused Cosby of sexual abuse going back decades, with most complaints too old to prosecute.
The Constand case was the only allegation that led to criminal charges. On the first day of the sentencing hearing on Monday, Constand said in a written statement submitted to the court that the attack had turned her into a woman who was “stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.”
“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it,” she wrote. Prosecutors had asked for the maximum prison sentence of between five and 10 years, citing the nature of Cosby’s crime as well as his alleged history of misconduct. They had also asked the judge to levy a $25,000 fine on Cosby and make him pay court costs. If ever he came up for parole, prosecutors wanted him to submit to a “psycho-sexual evaluation” that he had refused prior to sentencing.
Citing Cosby’s frailty and blindness, Cosby’s lawyers had asked for house arrest rather than prison time. Cosby’s first trial in 2017 ended in a mistrial when jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict. Soon after that proceeding, a series of women began leveling sexual misconduct allegations against influential men, launching the #MeToo and #TimesUpmovements that have encouraged victims to speak up about their experiences.