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'A sexually violent predator': Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison

His defence team has argued he is too frail for prison and that he is not a threat, but prosecutors pointed out he has not expressed remorse for his crime.

Image: Matt Rourke/PA

Updated Sep 25th 2018, 7:37 PM

TELEVISION ICON BILL Cosby was today sentenced to between three and 10 years behind bars for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman.

He has also been categorised as a sexually violent predator, meaning he must undergo counselling for life, and be listed on the sex offender registry.

The frail 81-year-old – once beloved as “America’s Dad” – became the first celebrity of the #MeToo era convicted of a sex crime, for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a former university basketball administrator, at his Philadelphia mansion in January 2004.

“All I’m asking for is justice as the court sees fit,” Constand told the court yesterday on the first of Cosby’s two-day hearing in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Around 60 women, many of them onetime aspiring actresses and models, publicly branded the pioneering actor a calculating, serial predator who plied victims with sedatives and alcohol to bed them over four decades.

But the case involving Constand, a former Temple University employee turned massage therapist, was the only one recent enough to have come to court.

Judge Steve O’Neill described Cosby as a “sexually violent predator” earlier this morning. 

“I’m not permitted to treat him any differently because of who he is, or who he was,” he said. “Of course, the higher the ascent the sharper the fall. I recognise that impact upon Mr Cosby, and I am sorry for that.”

Prosecutors demanded the “maximum” sentence, served in a state prison, together with a $25,000 fine and the full cost of the prosecution.

Defence lawyers argued that Cosby should be restricted to house arrest, arguing that he is too old and too frail — the actor says he is legally blind — to endure the rough and tumble of a correctional facility.

‘No remorse’

The actor once adored by millions for his defining role on “The Cosby Show” sat silently in court, dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and patterned tie. He appeared relaxed, at times chatting and smiling with his defence team.

Constand’s parents and sister testified, recalling how traumatic her ordeal at the hands of Cosby had been for the entire family.

Her sister described Constand as “frail,” “timid” and “nervous” after the assault, the opposite of her customary vibrant personality.

Chief prosecutor Kevin Steele castigated Cosby for failing to express any remorse for his crimes.

“He doesn’t believe that he did anything wrong,” Steele told the court, dismissing the argument that Cosby was “too old” to go to jail.

“Nobody is above the law,” he added.

Yesterday, Judge Steven O’Neill confirmed that both sides agreed to merge into one the three counts of aggravated indecent assault, reducing the maximum sentence he had theoretically faced from 30 to 10 years.

Future victim ‘possible’ 

Pennsylvania law defines a sexually violent predator as an offender with “a mental abnormality or personality disorder” that makes them likely to engage in repeat crimes.

The classification forces Cosby to register with state police for the rest of his life and submit to mandatory sex offender counseling.

“Mr Cosby is not dangerous. Eighty-one-year-old blind men that are not self-sufficient are not dangerous,” hit back defense lawyer Joseph Green.

A psychologist and member of the assessment board said that it was “possible” he had already met “a future victim,” saying being blind was irrelevant. “Being blind doesn’t make you unconscious,” she said.

The once towering figure in late 20th century American popular culture was the first black actor to grace primetime US television has been confined to his home on a $1 million bail for nearly three years.

A group of Cosby accusers, chatting and hugging one another during court recess, attended proceedings in an almost triumphant mood.

- © AFP 2018.

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