NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) — After designating Bill Cosby a “sexually violent predator” this morning, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that the 81-year-old comedian must spend three to 10 years in prison for a sexual assault that occurred over a decade ago.
Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill handed down the prison term following a two-day sentencing hearing, which falls five months after the actor was convicted of three counts of indecent sexual assault.
Back in April, following an earlier trial that ended in a deadlock, a jury found Cosby guilty of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in Cheltenham, a suburb of Philadelphia, in 2004.
Thirty-five years Cosby’s junior and gay, Constand said she had seen Cosby as a mentor and trusted him when he gave her pills “to take the edge off” one night when she came to him for career advice.
Soon thereafter, however, she found herself immobile as Cosby penetrated her with his fingers on a couch and made her touch his penis.
Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, the maximum for each of the counts against him. They emphasized this morning that Cosby showed “no remorse” for his actions.
“This is about a person who put himself in a situation of being a mentor, but we know he had other intentions from the beginning,” District Attorney Kevin Steele said. “We know that from the statements he made. What he saw in Andrea the first time he laid eyes on her. What his plan was. To get to the point they were going to get to. And that didn’t involve consent.”
Cosby’s defense argued that Cosby is too old and infirm to go to prison.
“I’ve never heard of a blind octogenarian sent to federal prison,” defense attorney Joseph Green said in support of his demand for a sentence of house arrest.
One psychologist for the defense testified this morning that the chance of Cosby committing another sex crime at this stage of his life is “extraordinarily low.” But a psychologist for the state testified Monday that Cosby appears to have a mental disorder that gives him an uncontrollable urge to assault women.
Cosby laughed periodically as this psychologist for the state told the court that the defendant was a sexual predator with signs of a mental disorder.
On the stand Monday, Constand told Judge O’Neill she wanted “justice as the court sees fit.” Though she opted not to read her victim-impact statement to the court, in it Constand said that life as she knew it “came to an abrupt halt” after the 2004 assault by Cosby.
A woman in the courtroom shot her fist into the air when Judge O’Neill said prosecutors had met their burden of proof for the predator designation by “clear and convincing” evidence.
“Yessss!” the woman whispered.
Such classification will require Cosby to undergo monthly counseling while in prison as well as on the outside, if he is granted released. It also requires placement of his name on a sex-offender registry sent to neighbors, schools and victims.
Best known for his eight-year role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the NBC hit “The Cosby Show,” Cosby declined to speak on his own behalf at the hearing.
Following the court’s predator designation, he did ask, “If I went from one city to another city, do I have to get in touch with the state police?”
The district attorney affirmed this.
For now, however, Cosby won’t be traveling much. After O’Neill denied a request by Cosby’s attorneys to allow the comedian to remain free on $1 million bail while he appeals the conviction, he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
After being assessed at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, Cosby will be assigned to a state prison somewhere in Pennsylvania.
“The higher the ascent, the sharper the fall,” O’Neill told Cosby, explaining his reasons for sending the legally blind 81-year-old to prison. “I recognize that impact on you, Mr. Cosby, and I am sorry for that.”
Cosby is the first big celebrity to go on trial in the era of the #MeToo movement, and the first to go to prison for crimes against women.