By Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper
Bill Cosby, once known as “America’s Dad,” was sentenced Tuesday to three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home 14 years ago.
Cosby’s bail was revoked and he was escorted from the courthouse in handcuffs.
“This was a serious crime,” Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Judge Steven O’Neill said. “Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come, the time has come.”
Cosby, convicted in April of aggravated indecent assault, declined to speak to the court prior to the sentence. His attorneys have filed an appeal.
He also was ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 plus the costs of prosecution as part of the sentence. In addition, O’Neill ruled that Cosby will be classified as a “sexually violent predator,” a determination that requires lifetime registration, lifetime mandatory sex offender counseling with a treatment provider and notification to the community that a “sexually violent predator” lives in the area.
Cosby was booked into Montgomery County Correctional Facility and will be transferred to SCI Phoenix, a state prison in Collegeville, according to Corrie Emerson, public affairs manager for Montgomery County.
The lengthy path to this moment began in 2004 when Cosby, the groundbreaking actor, gave Constand pills to incapacitate her and then sexually assaulted her.
She told police in 2005 about the incident but prosecutors declined to press charges, and they settled the case in civil court a year later.
A decade later, dozens of women came forward to say Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them over his decades as a powerful media figure. Constand’s was the only one of those cases that occurred within the statute of limitations.
A new team of prosecutors took up the case and, relying on Constand’s and Cosby’s statements in a civil deposition, arrested him in December 2015.
A first criminal trial against Cosby ended in a hung jury. But in April, Cosby was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and assaulting Constand in the first high-profile celebrity criminal trial of the #MeToo era.
“No one is above the law, and no one should be treated differently or disproportionally,” O’Neill said.
Cosby’s spokesperson Andrew Wyatt unleashed on the media, judge
He also said Cosby was doing well because “he knows that these are lies” and even compared it to the sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“They persecuted Jesus and look what happened. (I’m) not saying Mr. Cosby’s Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries,” Wyatt said.
Gloria Allred, the victims’ rights attorney who represents several women who say they were assaulted by Cosby, praised the sentence as a long journey to justice.
“We’re glad that judgment day has finally come for Mr. Cosby,” she said. “Mr. Cosby has shown no remorse and there has been no justice for many of the accusers who were barred from a court by the arbitrary time limits imposed by the statute of limitations.”
Ahead of the sentencing, Constand wrote a five-page letter to the court explaining how Cosby’s assault — and the ensuing legal battle — had changed her life.
As a Temple University employee, she looked up to Cosby, a Temple trustee, as a mentor and friend. He used that position of power and trust, as well as his public persona as Dr. Huxtable, to take advantage of her, she testified at trial.
“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature and my trust in myself and others,” she wrote in the impact statement.
O’Neill cited Constand’s statement in deciding on the sentence.
“I have given great weight to the victim impact testimony in this case, and it was powerful,” he said.
Kathy McKee, a former actress who has accused Cosby of raping her, told CNN that listening to the news about Cosby’s sentencing stirs up some “very difficult and deep emotions.”
“I’m happy that the judge sentenced Bill Cosby accordingly and I’m grateful to Andrea for standing strong,” she said.
Chelan Lasha, another of Cosby’s alleged victims, also praised the sentence.
“I am very happy to know that Mr. Cosby will do time in prison. That he is touchable, like he touched us unwillingly,” she said.
“We are grateful that the court understood the seriousness of Cosby’s crime and sentenced him to prison,” said Jodi Omear, vice president of communications at RAINN. “Let’s hope that the legacy of this case is that victims feel empowered to come forward, knowing that it can truly make a difference in bringing perpetrators to justice.”
Prosecutors had asked the judge on Monday to sentence Cosby to five to 10 years in state prison for the assault, saying he had shown “no remorse” for his actions. However, Cosby’s defense attorney, Joseph P. Green, asked for a sentence of house arrest, citing Cosby’s advanced age and blindness.