Bill Cosby sentenced to at least 3 years in prison
Disgraced US comedian Bill Cosby, 81, was sentenced to at least three years in prison on Tuesday. He was also branded a "sexually violent predator" by a Pennsylvania judge for assaulting a woman at his Philadelphia mansion 14 years ago.
"It is time for justice. Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The time has come," Judge Steven O'Neill said. The judge then quoted from victim Andrea Constand's statement to the court, saying that Cosby had taken her "beautiful, young spirit and crushed it."
He then handed Cosby a prison sentence of three to 10 years, the first such celebrity sentencing of the #MeToo era. Cosby must also pay $25,000 in fines (€21,244), undergo regular therapy and register as a sex offender. The latter requires him to notify schools, law enforcement and Constand of any changes in address.
Cosby was also denied bail by the judge, meaning he would head immediately to prison after leaving the court house.
Constand was assaulted by Cosby in 2004 when she was working for Temple University in Philadelphia. Her descriptions of being drugged and molested by Cosby were corroborated by 60 other accusers who reported a pattern of similar behavior on Cosby's part. Constand had first gone to the authorities with her claims in 2005, but nothing came of it.
'He was good at hiding this for a long time'
Criminal charges were finally filed against Cosby in 2015, and he was convicted in April. Constand and dozens of other accusers looked on in the Montgomery County court house as Judge O'Neill read out the sentence on Tuesday.
Prosecutors had been asking for at least five years in prison, while defense lawyers advocated for house arrest based on Cosby's advanced age and blindness.
But District Attorney Kevin Steele rejected the notion that Cosby's age and infirmity should garner him clemency. "He was good at hiding this for a long time. Good at suppressing this for a long time. So it's taken a long time to get there," Steele said.
Cosby's lawyers have indicated that their client intends to appeal the case, which could take years.
es/kms (AP, AFP)