Mark Makela/Getty Images(NORRISTOWN, Pa.) — Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to three to 10 years in state prison by a Pennsylvania judge who had designated the comedian a “sexually violent predator.”
Judge Steven O’Neill sentenced Cosby in a Norristown, Pennsylvania, courtroom, and then denied bail during pending appeals, capping a two-day hearing attended by about a dozen women who accused Cosby of sexual assault, including Andrea Constand, whom he was convicted of assaulting in his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
O’Neill ordered Cosby to serve the sentence in “total confinement” for “no less than 3 years and no more than 10 years.”
“This defendant is designated a sexually violent predator,” O’Neill said from the bench before announcing Cosby’s sentence.
“Mr. Cosby, you were convicted of a very serious crime,” O’Neill said, adding “that you penetrated Andrea Constand’s genitals with your hands without her permission.”
He called Cosby’s crime a “planned predation.”
The judge noted that Cosby has never shown any remorse and has not sought any kind of psychological counseling.
O’Neill told Constand that her victim impact statement presented to the judge in writing and partly giving in court Monday was a major factor in helping him decide Cosby’s sentence.
“I put a high degree of weight on the impact of the victim and her family,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill said he was prepared to remand Cosby to prison immediately. But Cosby’s lawyers asked that the entertainer be released on bail pending an appeal of his conviction on three counts of aggravated indecent assault stemming from the attack on Constand.
The judge said he would hear their argument Tuesday afternoon before deciding whether to order Cosby be taken into custody.
“The court’s reason for not granting bail pending an appeal [is because]… he was a risk, and at this stage, I’m just not going to treat him any differently than anyone else that comes through this court. I don’t see why I would,” O’Neill said.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele implored the judge to send Cosby to prison immediately.
“They’re asking you to treat him differently,” Steele told O’Neill. “What state prisoner or proven sexually violent predator gets bail? He should just be remanded. No amount of bail.”
Before sentencing Cosby, O’Neill asked defense attorney Joseph Green whether Cosby wanted to make a statement before he is sentenced. Cosby declined.
Cosby appeared alert, cooperative and engaged earlier Tuesday morning as he answered series of questions from prosecutor M. Stuart Ryan designed to determine whether he fully comprehended the implications and consequences of the “sexually violent predator” designation.
Pennsylvania state law defines a person with such a designation has “a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.” The consequences of such a designation are severe and lifelong.
The designation also means that Cosby will be required by law to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and be subject to the most stringent requirements a sex offender can incur.
At one point, Cosby interrupted Ryan with a question: “If I went from the city to another city … even if it’s just overnight, do I have to get in touch with the state police?”
Ryan suggested Cosby seek the counsel of his attorneys.
Cosby’s lawyers had pleaded with O’Neill Monday not to send the entertainer they described as an 81-year-old, infirmed blind man to prison but rather place him under house arrest.
Steele asked O’Neill to incarcerate Cosby with a maximum sentence of 10 years, arguing Monday that saying “he’s too old to go to prison is a get-out-of-jail-free card.”
Cosby was convicted in April of drugging and molesting Constand, a former director of operations of women’s basketball at Cosby’s alma mater Temple University who once considered the comedian a mentor. The assault occurred in 2004 at Cosby’s suburban Philadelphia home.
Constand told O’Neill Monday she wanted “justice as the court sees fit.”
In a written statement to O’Neill, which was released just before the judge ruled on Cosby’s status, Constand wrote, “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.”
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