NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS/AP) — Bill Cosby learned his fate inside a Montgomery County courtroom on Tuesday. The 81-year-old actor and comedian has been sentenced to no less than three years in state prison for sexually assaulting a former Temple University employee at his home in 2004.
Judge Steven O’Neill also ruled Cosby as a “sexually violent predator.” The classification means that Cosby must undergo lifetime counseling and report quarterly to authorities. His name will appear on a sex-offender registry sent to neighbors, schools and victims.
Cosby’s lawyers had fought the “sexually violent predator” designation, arguing that Pennsylvania’s sex-offender law is unconstitutional and that he is no threat to the public at his age. But O’Neill said prosecutors had met their burden of proof by “clear and convincing” evidence.
Cosby was found guilty in April on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Jurors convicted Cosby of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand without consent, while she was impaired and after incapacitating her.
Each count carried a sentence up to 10 years in prison. State guidelines suggested a one to four-year sentence. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele asked the judge to sentence Cosby to five to 10 years in prison.
More than 60 other women accused Cosby of sexual misconduct during his 50-year show business career. O’Neill allowed five of them to testify at trial, while others came to watch the court proceedings. Steele wanted some of them to speak at the sentencing, but O’Neill ruled out the testimony of most of the other accusers, other than the five trial witnesses.
Days before the sentencing, Cosby’s lawyers wanted O’Neill to step down from the case because of what Cosby’s team called a long-ago grudge with a pretrial witness. Last week, Cosby’s wife, Camille Cosby, filed a state ethics complaint this week accusing O’Neill of bias against her husband because of what she called his feud with a former prosecutor who testified in an early 2016 pretrial hearing. O’Neill had competed against the witness, Bruce Castor, for a political post years ago.
Bill Cosby had been on house arrest since the verdict.
Constand said in a statement submitted to the court and released Tuesday that she has had to cope with years of anxiety and self-doubt that have left her “stuck in a holding pattern.”
Constand, 45, said her training as a professional basketball player had led her to think she could handle anything, but “life as I knew it” ended on the night that Cosby knocked her out with pills and violated her.
Constand said she now lives alone with her two dogs and has trouble trusting people.
“When the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities,” she wrote in her five-page statement.
“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.”
She also 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.”
Tuesday’s sentencing was a reckoning accusers and prosecutors said was decades in the making.
“The victims cannot be un-raped. Unfortunately, all we can do is hold the perpetrator accountable,” said Gianna Constand, the victim’s mother, who testified Monday that her daughter’s buoyant personality was forever changed after the attack.
The hearing concluded Tuesday after testimony from a defense psychologist who says Cosby is no longer a danger, given his age, and should not be branded a “sexually violent predator.” On Monday, Kristen Dudley, a psychologist for the state of Pennsylvania, testified that Cosby fits the criteria for a sexually violent predator, showing signs of a mental disorder that involves an uncontrollable urge to have nonconsensual sex with young women.
Steele said Cosby would no doubt commit similar crimes if given the chance, warning that the former TV star seemingly gets a sexual thrill out of slipping women drugs and assaulting them.
“To say that he’s too old to do that — to say that he should get a pass, because it’s taken this long to catch up to what he’s done?” Steele said, his voice rising. “What they’re asking for is a ‘get out of jail free’ card.”
Cosby, he said, has shown repeatedly that he feels no remorse over his actions. And he said the sentence should send a message.
“Despite bullying tactics, despite PR teams and other folks trying to change the optics, as one lawyer for the defense put it, the bottom line is that nobody’s above the law. Nobody,” the district attorney said.
Cosby’s side didn’t call any character witnesses, and his wife of 54 years, Camille, was not in court.
Cosby became the first black actor to star in a prime-time TV show, “I Spy,” in 1965. He remained a Hollywood A-lister for much of the next half-century.
The proceedings took place as another extraordinary #MeToo drama continued to unfold on Capitol Hill, where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces allegations of sexual misconduct from more than three decades ago.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)