Comedian Bill Cosby, 81, has been sentenced to three to 10 years in a Pennsylvania state prison for drugging and molesting a woman in 2004.
Cosby was sentenced on Tuesday over the assault, which took place at his Philadelphia home back in 2004. The sentence was a bit lighter than demanded by prosecution, which urged the judge to put the comedian from five to 10 years behind bars.
“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,” Judge Steven O’Neil said Tuesday, sentencing the actor.
O’Neil denied Cosby’s lawyers’ request for bail pending appeal, and ordered him imprisoned immediately.
Cosby will also have to register as a violent sexual predator, requiring him to attend sex offender counseling, provided he lives long enough to be released from prison. His attorneys have argued he is legally blind and cannot live unassisted.
“I don’t remember anyone ever sentencing a blind octogenarian to state prison,” his attorney Joseph P. Green said.
A Pennsylvania jury decided in April that Cosby sexually assaulted Andrea Constand and while she was unconscious and intoxicated. Each count could have seen him sentenced to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball administrator, came to Cosby’s house seeking “career advice.”
“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it,” Constand wrote in her victim impact statement, submitted to the court for the sentencing hearing. “He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.”
Whatever happens now, “his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over,” Constand wrote.
Cosby had admitted to giving Constand the anti-allergy medication Benadryl and that their sexual encounter was consensual. Prosecutors declined to press charges in 2005, citing insufficient evidence, but changed their mind and indicted the actor in 2015.
Cosby’s first trial ended in a hung jury, but the state pressed charges again after a number of celebrities spoke out against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein at the end of 2017. Accusing Weinstein of rape, sexual abuse and harassment, the claimants used a social media hashtag #MeToo, which became synonymous with their movement.
While a number of public figures have been accused or even charged for behavior publicized by #MeToo, Cosby is the first celebrity to be actually sentenced to prison so far.
Prior to the allegations, Cosby had a reputation for championing family values. He was best known for family sitcoms such as The Cosby Show (1984-1992) and Cosby (1996-2000).