Bill Cosby in cuffs

TV star gets 3 to 10 years for sex as­sault

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Maryclaire Dale and Michael R. Sisak

NOR­RIS­TOWN, Pa. — At an age when other Hol­ly­wood stars are set­tling into re­tire­ment and col­lect­ing life­timeachieve­ment awards, an 81-year-old Bill Cosby was led away to prison in hand­cuffs on Sept. 25, sen­tenced to three to 10 years be­hind bars in what was seen by many of his ac­cusers as a reck­on­ing richly de­served and long over­due.

The co­me­dian, TV star and breaker of racial bar­ri­ers be­came the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be sent to prison. He was found guilty in April of drug­ging and sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a woman at his gated es­tate in 2004 af­ter be­ing bar­raged with sim­i­lar ac­cu­sa­tions from more than 60 women over the past five decades.

“It is time for jus­tice. Mr. Cosby, this has all cir­cled back to you. The time has come,” Mont­gomery County Judge Steven O’Neill said. He quoted from vic­tim An­drea Con­stand’s state­ment to the court, in which she said Cosby took her “beau­ti­ful, young spirit and crushed it.”

Cosby de­clined the op­por­tu­nity to speak be­fore the sen­tence came down, and af­ter­ward sat laugh­ing and chat­ting with his de­fense team. His wife of 54 years, Camille, was not in court. Con­stand smiled broadly on hear­ing the pun­ish­ment and was hugged by oth­ers in the court­room.

In a blis­ter­ing state­ment, Cosby spokesman An­drew Wy­att said the comic was sub­jected to the “most racist and sex­ist trial in the his­tory of the United States.” Wy­att said all three of the psy­chol­o­gists who tes­ti­fied against Cosby were “white women who make money off of ac­cus­ing black men of be­ing sex­ual preda­tors.”

Cosby’s lawyers asked that he be al­lowed to re­main free on bail while he ap­peals his con­vic­tion, but the judge ap­peared in­cred­u­lous over the re­quest and or­dered him locked up im­me­di­ately, say­ing that “he could quite pos­si­bly be a dan­ger to the com­mu­nity.”

The co­me­dian — who is legally blind and uses a cane — re­moved his watch, tie and jacket and walked out in a white dress shirt and red sus­penders, his hands cuffed in front of him. He ap­peared down­cast, his eyes fail­ing to meet the cam­era, in a mug shot re­leased by au­thor­i­ties.

Cosby must serve the min­i­mum of three years be­fore be­com­ing el­i­gi­ble for pa­role.

“For decades, the de­fen­dant has been able to hide his true self and hide his crimes us­ing his fame and for­tune. He’s hid­den be­hind a char­ac­ter he cre­ated, Dr. Cliff Huxtable,” Mont­gomery County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Kevin Steele said at a news con­fer­ence, re­fer­ring to Cosby’s best-known role. But “now, fi­nally, Bill Cosby has been un­masked, and we have seen the real man as he is headed off to prison.”

Con­stand stood at Steele’s side but shook her head to say she had no com­ment.

For­mer model Janice Dick­in­son, who ac­cused Cosby of vi­o­lat­ing her, looked at him in the court­room and said: “Who gets the last laugh, pal?”

An­other accuser in the court­room, Lili Bernard, said: “There is so­lace, ab­so­lutely. It is his fame and his for­tune and his phony phi­lan­thropy that has al­lowed him to get away with im­punity. Maybe this will send a mes­sage to other pow­er­ful per­pe­tra­tors that they will be caught and pun­ished.”

Cosby’s pun­ish­ment, which also in­cluded a $25,000 fine, came at the end of a two-day hear­ing at which the judge de­clared him a “sex­u­ally vi­o­lent preda­tor” — a mod­ern-day scar­let let­ter that sub­jects him to monthly coun­sel­ing for the rest of his life and re­quires that neigh­bors and schools be no­ti­fied of his where­abouts. A psy­chol­o­gist for the state tes­ti­fied that Cosby ap­pears to have a men­tal dis­or­der char­ac­ter­ized by an un­con­trol­lable urge to have sex with women with­out their con­sent.

The comic once known as Amer­ica’s Dad for his role on the top-rated “Cosby Show” in the 1980s was con­victed in April of vi­o­lat­ing Con­stand, Tem­ple Univer­sity women’s bas­ket­ball ad­min­is­tra­tor, at his sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia man­sion in 2004. It was the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

Con­stand tes­ti­fied that Cosby gave her what she thought were herbal pills to ease stress, then pen­e­trated her with his fin­gers as she lay im­mo­bi­lized on a couch. Cosby claimed the en­counter was con­sen­sual, and his lawyers branded her a “con artist” who framed the co­me­dian to get a big pay­day — a $3.4 mil­lion set­tle­ment she re­ceived over a decade ago.

Five other ac­cusers took the stand at the trial as part of an ef­fort by prose­cu­tors to por­tray him as a preda­tor.

Cosby faced any­where from pro­ba­tion to 10 years in prison. His lawyers asked for house ar­rest, say­ing he is too old and vul­ner­a­ble to go to prison. Prose­cu­tors asked for five to 10 years be­hind bars, warn­ing that he could still pose a threat to women.

/ Mark Makela-Pool Photo via AP

Bill Cosby (cen­ter right) leaves the court­room af­ter he was sen­tenced to three-to 10-years for sex­ual as­sault on Sept. 25 in Nor­ris­town, Pa.

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