Bill Cosby at age 81 was led off to prison in handcuffs on Tuesday, for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman he was sentenced to three to 10 years behind bars, his Hollywood career and good-guy image ruined.
He will also be required to register as a sexual predator for life, the punishment made him the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be sent to prison and all but completed the late-in-life, dizzying fall from grace for the comedian, former TV star and breaker of racial barriers.
Montgomery Judge Steven O’Neill said, “Equal justice under the law” means Cosby should not be sentenced differently based on “who he is or who he was”. He quoted from the victim Andrea Constand’s own statement to the court, in which she said Cosby took her “beautiful, young spirit and crushed it.”
He added, “It is time for justice. Mr Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The time has come. No one is above the law and no one should be treated differently or disproportionately based on where they live or who they are, or based on wealth, celebrity, philanthropy.”
Constand smiled broadly upon hearing the punishment and was hugged by others in the courtroom. Bill Cosby declined the opportunity to speak before the sentence came down and afterward he sat smiling, laughing and chatting with his defense team. His wife of 54 years Camille was not in court.
Cosby was later denied bail by O’Neill. He was surrounded by his team as his tie and cuff-links was being removed in preparation for being taken into custody. One of his accusers, supermodel Janice Dickinson, laughed loudly from the audience as was doing this.
Joseph P. Green, Cosby’s attorney had sought house arrest, saying Cosby is legally blind and cannot live unassisted. Although, Cosby never denied having sexual contact with Constand, but he insisted it was consensual.
“I don’t remember anyone ever sentencing a blind octogenarian to state prison,” Green said.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele moved for the maximum, pointing to what he said was Cosby’s lack of remorse, while also emphasizing on the reminder of the comedian’s wealth and resources to the court.
“He was good at hiding this for a long time, he was good at suppressing this, so it’s taken a long time to get there, But in considerations he asked for, i would ask the court to weigh what was done to Andrea Constand and her family,” Steele said.
On drugging and sexual assault, more than 60 women have accused Cosby over the span of decades but the allegation made by Constand was the only criminal large part case to be brought, because most of the accusations were too old to prosecute.
O’Neill apparently agree, telling Cosby during his sentencing that “some might say you were old back then when you assaulted Andrea Constand.”
In April Cosby was convicted of drugging and raping Constand, his defense team tried to paint the con artist who showed romantic interest in the comedian in order to concoct false assault allegations and secure a nearly $3.4 million civil settlement. At a point he called her a “pathological liar” but five other accusers were being called by prosecutors and they testified that they were also drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby including Dickinson.
“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it, Constand wrote. “He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.” She addressed the court.
Constand told judge Monday in her once address to the court at the sentencing hearing that “all i am asking for is justice as the court sees fit.” In her longer victim impact statement, she recalled how she went from a pro athlete with a promising career, to being unable to “eat, sleep, or socialize” after the assault.
Cosby, whose estimated fortune once topped $400 million, broke barriers in 1960s as the first black actor to star in a network show, “I Spy.” He moved on to superstardom as wise and understanding Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” a sitcom that showed America a new kind of black TV family: a warm and loving household led by two professionals, one a lawyer and the other a doctor.
The Cosby legal team has reportedly already filled papers in an effort to keep him out of prison during an appeal. But Cosby, who will also have to attend sex offender counseling for the rest of his life and be subjected community notification if he’s ever released, never addressed the court, nor did his attorneys call character witnesses to speak on his behalf.
Wave of women soon started coming forward with their own drug and assaulted stories by Cosby one of which is Kathy McKee. She alleges Cosby raped her in Detroit hotel room in 1974, informed CNN after the sentence was made that she was glad that he was getting prison time.
“I feel a great deal of sorrow for all the women that this has happened to and not just with Bill Cosby, but everywhere. I’m just struggling to keep going every day, i’m happy the judge sentenced Bill Cosby accordingly, and i’m grateful to Andrea for standing strong,” she said.
Cosby was alleged by another woman, Lili Bernard of being drugged and rape, told CNN the sentencing was “a momentous decision in a #MeToo era.”
“I do have mixed emotions,” she added. “On the one hand, i feel absolutely elated that justice was served. On the other hand, i also feel disappointed because clearly three-year minimum sentence does not adequately reflect the havoc this man, this rapist, has inflicted on so many women, including myself.”
At the first criminal trial against Bill Cosby ended in a mistrial when the jury couldn’t reach a verdict. After the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal broke and sparked the #MeToo movement, his retrial occurred. Allowing more of his accusers to testify, bolstering Constand’s allegations.
As the allegations mounted, all his career collapsed, “Cosby Show” reruns were taken off the air, and one college after another stripped him of his honorary degrees. The sentencing Tuesday marks yet another chapter in the downfall of a comedian who built his reputation on being America’s Dad.
Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesperson slammed outside the courthouse what he called “the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States.” Wyatt claimed that on appeal even as protesters used bullhorns in the background, Cosby’s team will prove prosecutors falsified evidence.
“Dr Cosby has been one of the greatest civil rights leaders in the United States for over the last 50 years. He has also been one of the greatest educators of men and boys over the last 50 years.” he said.
He also said, “Mr Cosby knows God is watching over him and he knows these are lies, they persecuted Jesus. Look what happened, not saying Mr. Cosby is Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries. S o Mr. Cosby is doing fine. He’s holding up well and everybody who wants to say anything negative, you’re a joke as well.”