Hollywood star Bill Cosby has been sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison in a Pennsylvania court for aggravated indecent assault, NPR reports. This means that he will have to serve at least three years in custody before becoming eligible for parole. He will also have to register as a sex offender and attend counseling for life.
At the earliest, Cosby could be freed at age 84, and at the latest, 91. During the sentencing, he remained silent and hid his reaction from cameras.
The results came after a two and a half year long battle, which began with Cosby being charged in December 2015, just before the statute of limitations was to expire on the Constand case. In 2017, the first trial ended in a deadlock. Finally, on April 26, 2018 in the second trial, he was convicted.
The Guardian reports Cosby is the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be convicted for his crimes. This is pretty big for the movement, and it leaves the world wondering who will be the next to face justice. Will Harvey Weinstein, who was indicted earlier this year on charges of rape, sexual abuse, and sexual assault be found guilty? One can only hope.
Cosby got nearly the maximum sentence of five to 10 years in prison and was denied any leniency on conditions for serving his sentence such as a request for serving the term on continued house arrest, furlough, or the ability to serve his sentence in county jail in lieu of state prison.
The defense asked for house arrest, citing Cosby’s age, frail condition, legal blindness, and claiming he is not a threat, despite never showing remorse for his crimes against dozens of women since the 1960s, going as far to assert the encounter with Constand was entirely consensual.
When sentencing Cosby, Judge Steven T. O’Neill took into account Andrea Constand’s victim impact statement, saying “I put a high degree of weight on the impact of the crime on the victim and her family.”
Constand said that she was at the top of her game before the traumatic incident, a young athlete, and one of the top high school basketball players in all of Canada who received multiple scholarship offers from universities across the United States and later played basketball professionally in Italy.
At the time of the assault, she was director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team. Bill Cosby is an alumnus of Temple University and had close ties as a member of the Board of Trustees after graduating with a Bachelor’s in 1971.
In January 2004, Bill Cosby, a man she called a mentor and a friend, someone she thought she could trust, drugged and sexually assaulted her. Constand said that she was “paralyzed and completely helpless,” unable to move or speak, left vulnerable and unable to defend herself.
In the aftermath, she lost her appetite, felt isolated in social situations, and had nightmares. She mustered up the courage to go to the police and report what happened, but it left her with a lot of pain, and she had to face Bill Cosby’s legal team and all the smear campaigns that followed.
Judge O’Neill said that Cosby crushed Constand’s “beautiful, young spirit.”
Any survivor could identify with Constand’s statement. After being assaulted, life is never the same, and it takes so much courage to speak up, especially when the person who hurt you is a powerful, influential person who is respected. Most survivors know the person who assaulted them and often, they were someone they thought they could trust. Feelings of being frozen, helpless, vulnerable, and confused are all common among abuse survivors.
Bill Cosby’s publicist, Andrew Wyatt, claimed the trial was “the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States,” and blamed the verdict on “white women who make money off accusing black men of being sexually violent predators.” Wyatt made a comparison to Jesus, saying, “They persecuted Jesus and look what happened,” and said that anyone with anything negative to say about him is a joke.
Bill Cosby’s wife Camille’s spokeswoman made a statement accusing the prosecutors of using falsified evidence.
Of course, many of the other celebrities called out by the #MeToo movement for their predatory behavior are white, like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Roman Polanski. Clearly, this is not a race issue.
Justice is served, and Bill Cosby is no longer a free man. What would have made this news even more satisfying is if he could have gotten an even longer sentence or if he were caught and sentenced decades earlier.
The courts need to be tougher on sexual predators. Ten years is not enough time.
Andrea Constand said it well in her impact statement, “We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator, but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.”