Judge sets Bill Cosby sen­tenc­ing date for Septem­ber

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - NEWS - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @Mont­coCourtNews on Twit­ter

NOR­RIS­TOWN » En­ter­tainer Bill Cosby will learn his fate from a judge at a Septem­ber sen­tenc­ing hear­ing on charges he drugged and sex­u­ally as­saulted a woman at his Chel­tenham man­sion in 2004.

Mont­gomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill on May 15 is­sued an or­der set­ting aside two days, Sept. 24 and 25, for what is ex­pected to be the most-watched sen­tenc­ing hear­ing ever in a county court­room. The sen­tenc­ing hear­ing is ex­pected to at­tract world­wide me­dia at­ten­tion.

Cosby, who turns 81 in July, faces a pos­si­ble max­i­mum sen­tence of 15 to 30 years in prison on the three counts of ag­gra­vated in­de­cent as­sault of which he was con­victed by a jury in April. How­ever, state sen­tenc­ing guide­lines could al­low for a lesser sen­tence.

A jury of seven men and five women de­lib­er­ated about 14 hours over two days be­fore con­vict­ing Cosby on April 26 of the three felony charges in con­nec­tion with sex­u­ally as­sault­ing An­drea Con­stand, a for­mer Tem­ple Univer­sity ath­letic depart­ment em­ployee, af­ter ply­ing her with “three blue pills,” at his Chel­tenham man­sion in Jan­uary 2004.

O’Neill has al­lowed Cosby to re­main free on bail, 10 per­cent of $1 mil­lion, to await sen­tenc­ing. The judge said the en­ter­tainer must wear an elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing de­vice while he re­mains free. Cosby can­not leave the state with­out ap­proval of the judge.

It was the sec­ond trial for Cosby. Cosby’s first trial in June 2017 ended in a mis­trial when a jury se­lected from Al­legheny County couldn’t reach a ver­dict.

Dur­ing the 14-day re­trial last month, the lat­est jury, com­prised of Mont­gomery County res­i­dents, found that Cosby sex­u­ally as­saulted Con­stand while she was un­con­scious and with­out her con­sent.

Lead de­fense lawyer Thomas Me­sereau Jr. pre­vi­ously said that Cosby will ap­peal the con­vic­tion.

Dur­ing the re­trial, District At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele was per­mit­ted to call five ad­di­tional women, who ac­cused Cosby of sex­ual mis­con­duct be­tween the years 1982 and 1996, to tes­tify, in­clud­ing model Jan­ice Dick­in­son, who tes­ti­fied Cosby raped her dur­ing a 1982 meet­ing in his ho­tel room in Lake Ta­hoe, Ne­vada. Dur­ing Cosby’s first trial last June, O’Neill per­mit­ted only one other ac­cuser to tes­tify.

Dur­ing the re­trial, Steele and co-pros­e­cu­tors Kris­ten Fe­den and M. Ste­wart Ryan de­scribed Cosby as a trusted men­tor who be­trayed the friend­ship he had with Con­stand and said the crim­i­nal case was “about trust…about be­trayal.” Pros­e­cu­tors al­leged Cosby plied Con­stand with “three blue pills” and pro­ceeded to sex­u­ally as­sault her while she vis­ited his home to dis­cuss her ca­reer.

Pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued Con­stand did not have the abil­ity to con­sent to sex­ual con­tact.

Con­stand, 45, of On­tario, Canada, tes­ti­fy­ing 7 ½ hours over two days, said af­ter tak­ing the blue pills she be­gan slur­ring her words and was un­able to fight off Cosby’s sex­ual ad­vances. The for­mer di­rec­tor of women’s bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions at Tem­ple Univer­sity claimed Cosby guided her to a couch, where she passed out.

Con­stand tes­ti­fied she was “jolted” awake to find Cosby touch­ing her breasts, dig­i­tally pen­e­trat­ing her and forc­ing her to touch his pe­nis, all with­out her con­sent.

Con­stand didn’t re­port the in­ci­dent to po­lice un­til Jan­uary 2005, about a year af­ter it oc­curred. Con­stand was 30 and Cosby was in his 60s at the time of the as­sault.

Cosby, who did not tes­tify dur­ing his first trial or at the re­trial, main­tained the con­tact he had with Con­stand was con­sen­sual.

Dur­ing the re­trial, Me­sereau, who suc­cess­fully rep­re­sented singer Michael Jack­son on mo­lesta­tion charges in 2004, por­trayed Con­stand as greedy and “a patho­log­i­cal liar” who had a fi­nan­cial mo­tive to lie about a sex­ual as­sault.

For the first time pub­licly, it was re­vealed dur­ing the trial that Cosby en­tered into a $3,380,000 civil set­tle­ment with Con­stand in Oc­to­ber 2006. Judge O’Neill ruled that ev­i­dence of the civil set­tle­ment be­tween Cosby and Con­stand was ad­mis­si­ble ev­i­dence at the crim­i­nal trial.

The trial rep­re­sented the first time Cosby, who played Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1992, had been charged with a crime de­spite al­le­ga­tions from dozens of women who claimed they were as­saulted by the en­ter­tainer.

The charges were lodged against Cosby on Dec. 30, 2015, be­fore the 12-year statute of lim­i­ta­tions to file charges ex­pired.

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