Actor Bill Cosby, 81, has been sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison for sexually assaulting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia in 2004.
Cosby showed no visible reaction to the sentence, which was close to the maximum that could be imposed. After chatting with lawyers and friends he took off his suit jacket, watch and tie as two deputy sheriffs handcuffed him and transported him to jail.
Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill denied Cosby’s request for bail pending his appeal.
Under Pennsylvania law, Cosby will have to serve the full minimum of three years before he can be eligible for parole. The maximum possible sentence was five to 10 years behind bars.
“This is a serious crime,” said O’Neill, who rejected the defense request for house arrest, partial confinement, and even a chance to serve the sentence in the county jail as opposed to state prison.
Cosby was found guilty in April of molesting Constand, who had been operations manager of the women’s basketball team at Temple University, where Cosby had been a major supporter and donor.
It was the first sentencing of a celebrity in the passionate atmosphere of the #MeToo movement, and the case provided a backdrop not just for Constand’s allegation, but for some of the dozens of other women who accused Cosby of assaulting them, and faithfully attended the court proceedings.
O’Neill said he gave substantial weight to the impact of the sexual assault on victim Andrea Constand, who was seated in the courtroom when the sentence was announced. “I put a high degree of weight on the impact of the crime on the victim and her family,” said O’Neill.
Cosby’s publicist, Andrew Wyatt, denounced the outcome in a statement outside court. “This has been the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States,” he said, laying the blame at the feet of “white women who make money off accusing black men of being sexual predators.”
“They persecuted Jesus and look what happened,” Wyatt added. “Mr. Cosby is fine. He’s holding up well. Anyone who wants to say anything negative, you’re a joke as well.”
Cosby’s wife Camille, through a spokeswoman, issued a statement blasting the prosecutors for using “falsified evidence.”
At a news conference, District Attorney Kevin Steele, said Cosby is no Cliff Huxtable, but rather someone who used his acting skills to prey on women.
Justice, he said, has finally been served with the prison term. “It’s been a long time coming,” said Steele.
Earlier in the day, O’Neill declared the former TV star a “sexually violent predator.” The designation means that Cosby, who is legally blind, will be subject to a lifetime of reporting requirements, meaning that he will have to advise law enforcement authorities of where he is residing.