Bill Cosby, formerly revered for the character he played on TV’s “The Cosby Show,” was legally declared a “sexually violent predator” on Tuesday and sentenced to prison for the 2004 sexual assault of a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home.
Cosby, who in April was found guilty of three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault, was sentenced by Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill to serve three to 10 years in state prison, Fox News reported.
“No one is above the law, and no one should be treated differently or disproportionally,” O’Nell said in sentencing Cosby.
Being labeled a predator means that even after Cosby, 81, finishes his prison sentence, he will be on a sex offender registry, must report to authorities and undergo counseling.
Although Cosby was accused of sexual assault by upward of 60 women, the case upon which he was convicted was that of Andrea Constand, who had accused Cosby of rape in a 2004 incident he said was consensual.
“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,” Constand said in her victim impact statement, which was made public Tuesday.
“This was a serious crime,” O’Neill said, according to CNN. “Mr. Cosby this has all circled back to you. The day has come, the time has come.”
The prosecution wanted Cosby locked up for a minimum of five years.
“A sober view of this case and this defendant, without any regard to emotion or sympathy, can mean only one just sentence, and that is the maximum allowed by law. The Commonwealth respectfully requests that this Court impose a sentence of five to 10 years imprisonment, a $25,000 fine, and costs of prosecution,” prosecutors had said in a court document.
In the document containing its demand for the maximum sentence, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said Cosby’s crime “was more than just a physical sexual assault. He violated Ms. Constand’s trust, which, unbeknownst to her, he spent time and energy cultivating with the specific intent of having sexual contact with her. He also abused his power. Defendant used his age, his stature at Temple University, and, of course, his acting success and public persona to facilitate his drug-induced sexual assault. The totality of his crime was severe. His sentence should reflect that.”
Cosby’s defense fought against his being labeled a predator, saying no one was at risk from Cosby, The New York Times reported.
“How’s he going to meet these people?” said Joseph A. Green, defending Cosby. “There is no reasonable prospect that an 81-year-old blind man is likely to reoffend.”
Psychologist Kristen F. Dudley, speaking for the prosecution, said age was not an issue.
“It is possible that he has already met someone who could be a future victim,” she said.
District Attorney Kevin Steele also had a response to the argument that Cosby’s age should exempt him from punishment.
“So 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. “What they’re asking for is a ‘get out of jail free’ card.”
Prosecutors said Cosby never showed an interest in changing his behavior or admitting his guilt.
“These assaults spanned decades and demonstrate an ingrained pattern of criminality. There is no indication the defendant’s behavior will stop merely because he has been convicted,” they wrote in their demand for the maximum sentence. “Moreover, the defendant has never accepted responsibility for his crime, nor has he shown any remorse. Quite the opposite, he tried to silence Ms. Constand with money because he was concerned about his own potential financial harm if news of the assault became public.”
During his sentencing, Cosby did not speak in his defense, and spoke mostly to acknowledge he understood the impact of being named a sexually violent predator.
“One question,” Cosby said at one point, according to The Washington Post. “If I went from a city to another city, do I have to — even if it’s just overnight — I would have to advise the state police?”
Cosby also spoke in regard to the requirement that Constant be notified if he moves.
“I have to notify?” Cosby said. After being told the state would do that, Cosby replied, “Good, good.”
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