Bill Cosby faces a good chance of being sent to prison Tuesday (Sept. 25) , when a judge is expected to sentence the TV star who was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman. Cosby, 81, will have the opportunity to speak in court before he is sentenced.
The once-beloved actor and comedian, dubbed “America’s Dad” for his role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-ranked, 1980s-era Cosby Show, faces anything from probation to 10 years in prison for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a Temple University basketball administrator, at his estate near Philadelphia. She went to police a year later, only to have a prosecutor turn down the case.
In the years since Constand first went to police in 2005, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, though none of those claims have led to criminal charges. Cosby is the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to go on trial, and the first to be convicted. It’s a reckoning that accusers and prosecutors say has been decades in the making.
“The victims cannot be un-raped. Unfortunately, all we can do is hold the perpetrator accountable,” said Gianna Constand, the trial victim’s mother, who testified Monday that her daughter’s buoyant personality was forever changed after the attack. The hearing is set to conclude Tuesday after testimony from a defense psychologist who believes Cosby is no longer a danger, given his age, and should not be branded a “sexually violent predator.”
Defense lawyer Joseph Green Jr. urged the judge ignore the protests and activism surrounding the case, and send Cosby home on house arrest. “The suggestion that Mr. Cosby is dangerous is not supported by anything other than the frenzy,” Green said, as demonstrators gathered outside the suburban Philadelphia courthouse.
Being labeled a sexually violent predator would make him subject to mandatory lifetime counseling and community notification of his whereabouts. On Monday (Sept. 24), Kristen Dudley, a psychologist for the state of Pennsylvania, testified that Cosby fits the criteria for a sexually violent predator, showing signs of a mental disorder that involves an uncontrollable urge to have non-consensual sex with young women.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said Cosby would no doubt commit similar crimes if given the chance, warning that the former TV star seemingly gets a sexual thrill out of slipping women drugs and assaulting them. “To say that he’s too old to do that — to say that he should get a pass, because it’s taken this long to catch up to what he’s done?” Steele said, his voice rising. “What they’re asking for is a ‘get out of jail free’ card.”
Cosby, he said, has shown repeatedly that he feels no remorse over his actions. And he said the sentence should send a message to others. “Despite bullying tactics, despite PR teams and other folks trying to change the optics, as one lawyer for the defense put it, the bottom line is that nobody’s above the law. Nobody,” the district attorney said.
He urged a five- to 10-year prison sentence. After testifying for several hours at two trials, the first of which ended in a hung jury, Constand spoke in court Monday for just two minutes. “The jury heard me. Mr. Cosby heard me. Now all I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit,” said Andrea Constand, who submitted a much longer victim-impact statement that wasn’t read in court.
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, which Constand and other accusers have done. Cosby’s side didn’t call any character witnesses, and his wife of 54 years, Camille, was not in court. Cosby became the first black actor to star in a prime-time TV show, I Spy, in 1965. He remained a Hollywood A-lister for much of the next half-century.
Monday’s proceedings took place as another extraordinary #MeToo drama continued to unfold on Capitol Hill, where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces allegations of sexual misconduct from more than three decades ago.