Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison, is officially a sexually violent predator
Bill Cosby, the 81-year-old comedian who created the groundbreaking sitcom The Cosby Show, has been sentenced to three to ten years in state prison. In addition, he will be required to register as a sexual predator for life. Last April a jury found him guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.
Judge Steven O'Neill said that Cosby should be sentenced regardless of "who he is or who he was." "No one is above the law, and no one should be treated differently or disproportionally," said the judge. "I have given great weight to the victim impact testimony in this case, and it was powerful." Cosby was denied bail, and taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
Cosby insisted the sexual contact with Constand was consensual. His attorney, Joseph P. Green, asked for a sentence of house arrest, claiming his client was blind and could not not unassisted. "I don’t remember anyone ever sentencing a blind octogenarian to state prison," said Green. (Well, there's a first time for everything.)
Over the decades, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of drugging them and sexually assaulting them. Constand's was the only criminal case to be prosecuted, because most of the others fell outside the statue of limitations. When Constand took the witness stand, she explained why she didn't report it at the time: "The shame was overwhelming. Self-doubt and confusion kept me from turning to my family or friends as I normally did. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself."
Certainly many of Cosby's victims were intimidated by his status as a powerful, prominent celebrity. Rumors about his behavior might have been whispered in comedy circles, but his public image was squeaky-clean. He was "America's Dad," a spokesman for Jell-O pudding pops, the host of Kid's Say The Darnedest Things. Even today, victims of sexual assault are slandered. "I was called a gold-digger, a con artist, and a pathological liar," said Constand. "My hard-working middle class parents were accused of trying to get money from a rich and famous man."
Ten months after Cosby's mistrial, justice has been served. The disgraced TV icon will go to prison, but let us not forget the impact on the victim's life. "Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it," said Constand, in her powerful victim impact statement. "When the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities. 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."
During the second trial, five courageous women took the stand to give their accounts of being drugged and assaulted by Cosby. Thanks to the #MeToo movement, the hearing took place in a different world, where their harrowing stories could be heard. When Cosby was sentenced, ten of his accusers were sitting in the courtroom. "We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator," said Constand. "But his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over."