After a tumultuous legal battle, Bill Cosby was sentenced to state prison time on Tuesday for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his Cheltenham mansion in 2004 and was immediately remanded to custody.
Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven T. O’Neill handed down a three to 10-year sentence after a two-day-long sentencing hearing at which he deemed Cosby, formerly considered “America’s Dad” as star of The Cosby Show, a “violent sexual predator.”
“It’s been 34 months since the complaint was brought. … It is time for justice. The day has come. The time has come,” O’Neill said in handing down the sentence. “No one is above the law. No one should be treated disproportionately because of who they are, where they live, or even their wealth, celebrity, or philanthropy. “
O’Neill refused to grant Cosby bail or allow him to remain free on house-arrest pending appeal, and instead ordered him to be immediately remanded to state custody, despite defense lawyers raising last-minute objections and appeals regarding evidence in Cosby’s case. After a final break to review the law, O’Neill rejected defense arguments and ordered Cosby into custody.
With his hands and feet shackled, holding a thin cane, Cosby was escorted out a back door of the courtroom and driven away in a black sport utility vehicle.
Cosby will first be detained in Eagleville at the Montgomery Count Correctional Center, according to prosecutors. He will then be officially transferred into Pennsylvania Department of Correction custody at the State Correctional Institution in Phoenixville, the newest state prison, and from there the final state prison of his incarceration will be determined.
Montco DA Kevin Steele had argued for Cosby to get five to 10 years in prison, on the basis of the fact that Cosby used his celebrity to prey on women and had never shown remorse or apologized for his crimes.
At a press conference after the sentence was handed own, he rejected questions that Cosby as an African-American may have been treated unfairly by the system.
“This is no different than any other case. … We simply follow the case where the evidence takes us and it doesn’t matter who they are,” Steele said. “When Judge [Eduardo] Robreno released the deposition and said that ‘this is perhaps criminal,’ we’re obligated to look at that, and we did.”
Defense lawyer Joseph Green contended at the hearing that Cosby is a frail old man, at age 81 and now legally blind, and deserved leniency, possibly house arrest.
But O’Neill sided with prosecutors, sentencing Cosby to three to 10 years in prison.
Cosby casually removed his watch and suit jacket while waiting to be placed in custody, before he was cuffed and escorted out.
“Mr. Cosby is doing great and Mr. Cosby knows that god is looking over him, and he knows that these are lies, they persecuted Jesus, and look what happened, not saying Mr. Cosby is Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries,” Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s personal assistant and spokesman through his criminal trials, told media after Cosby was escorted into custody. “So Mr. Cosby is doing fine, he’s holding up well, and anyone who wants to say anything negative, you’re a joke as well, so thank you very much.”
Also on Tuesday, Cosby was officially deemed a “sexually violent predator” by Judge O’Neill after two psychologists testified about his mental state.
Dr. Tim Foley testified that Cosby was unlikely to re-offend, saying few sex offenders commit new crimes after the age of 70. But O’Neill sided with a state psychologist, Dr. Kristen Dudley, who said that Cosby has a “mental abnormality,” which she called a “paraphilic disorder,” specifically, that he is attracted to “non-consenting women.”
Cosby was also ordered to pay $25,000.
Bill Cosby’s legacy of sexual assault
Some 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault over the past few decades, but he has only faced criminal charges in the Constand case.
Constand and her family also spoke on Monday at the hearing.
“Your honor, I have testified,” Constand said in her statement. “I have given you my victim impact statement. The jury heard me. Mr. Cosby heard me. All I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit.”
On Tuesday, prosecutors released a six-page written statement from Constand, in which she detailed the severe impact that followed her assault by Cosby.
“To truly understand the impact that sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened,” Constand wrote. “When the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities. 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.”
Constand, a high school and college basketball star and played pro in Italy before taking a job at Temple as a director of operations for the women’s basketball team. Assaulted by Cosby just before leaving her job at Temple, Constand wrote that back home in Canada, she experienced worse and worse psychological issues before reporting the molestation to police, one year after it happened.
“The nightmares started. I dreamed that another woman was being assaulted right in front of me and it was all my fault. … I became more and more anxious that what had happened to me was going to happen to someone else. I grew terrified that it might already be too late, that the sexual assaults were continuing because I didn’t speak out,” Constand wrote, adding that reporting to police and the ensuing counterattacks by Cosby and his legal team led to “insurmountable stress and anxiety, which I still experience today.”
“Now, more than 60 women have self-identified as sexual assault victims of Bill Cosby,” she wrote. “We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator, but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.”
Additional reporting by Reuters