Bill Cosby learns today whether he’ll go to prison
Bill Cosby will have a final opportunity to make his case to the court on Tuesday before a Pennsylvania judge sentences him on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
Montgomery County prosecutors asked a judge on Monday to sentence Cosby to five to 10 years in prison for the 2004 sexual assault of Andrea Constand, saying he had shown “no remorse” for his actions.
“He seemingly thinks that he hasn’t done anything wrong. The jury thinks otherwise,” District Attorney Kevin Steele said.
“This is about a person who put himself in a situation of being a mentor, but we know he had other intentions just from the beginning,” he added.
However, Cosby’s defense attorney, Joseph P. Green, asked for a sentence of house arrest, citing Cosby’s advanced age and blindness.
“Mr. Cosby is not dangerous,” he said. “Eighty-one-year-old blind men who are not self-sufficient are not a danger, unless perhaps to themselves.”
Judge Steven T. O’Neill will issue the sentence on Tuesday after he decides whether Cosby should be classified a “sexually violent predator.” The determination would require Cosby to register with state police and submit to sex-offender counseling and notification for life.
If he must serve time, he could be taken into custody immediately after the judge pronounces the sentence.
Cosby was convicted in April of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and assaulting Constand at his home in 2004, in the first high-profile celebrity criminal trial of the #MeToo era.
Though the charges each carry a maximum possible sentence of 10 years, Judge O’Neill announced that the charges had been merged into one because they all stem from the same event. The state sentencing guidelines indicate 22 to 36 months in prison, plus or minus 12 months because of aggravating or mitigating circumstances.
Monday’s hearing also featured victim impact statements from Constand, her parents and her sister. Constand, whose testimony at trial was central to the case against Cosby, spoke for just a few moments in court.
“I have testified, I have given you my victim impact statement,” Constand said. “You heard me, the jury heard me and Mr. Cosby heard me. All I’m asking for is justice as the court sees fit.”
Sexually violent predator status
On Monday, a prosecution expert said Cosby should be labeled a “sexually violent predator” because he has a mental disorder that involves urges toward nonconsenting women.
“The behaviors are beyond their controls, so they are urged to act on it. He is likely to reoffend,” Kristen Dudley, a psychologist and a member of the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, testified in court.
A state panel had advised that Cosby be classified as a “sexually violent predator.” Cosby declined to participate in the evaluation by Dudley, who said she came to her determination by reviewing trial transcripts and other reports.
Defense attorneys challenged her assessment that he would reoffend, saying that his age and blindness made it unlikely. A defense witness is expected to testify on Tuesday prior to the judge’s ruling on the issue.
O’Neill’s ruling on Cosby’s status will not impact the ultimate sentence. Cosby’s team also argued that the sexually violent predator status was unconstitutional, but Judge O’Neill ruled against that argument on Monday.
Cosby’s case tests #MeToo
Several of Cosby’s victims arrived to court Monday for the sentencing, including supermodel Janice Dickinson. She was one of five “prior bad acts” witnesses, all of whom testified at the criminal trial that Cosby had incapacitated and then assaulted them without their consent.
Cosby arrived Monday with his spokespeople, Andrew Wyatt and Ebonee Benson.
Cosby did not testify at the trial and has spoken publicly only infrequently since his criminal trial began. But in April, when prosecutors claimed he had a private plane and asked the judge to revoke his bail, Cosby stood up in court and yelled, “He doesn’t have a plane, you a**hole,” referring to himself in the third person.
Green, Cosby’s attorney, downplayed the outburst on Monday when asking the judge to sentence Cosby to house arrest.
“Mr. Cosby’s frustration got the better of him and he used a name towards Mr. Steele he shouldn’t have,” Green said.
“When Mr. Steele’s witnesses at trial made outbursts, that was excused, everybody understands, but when the defendant makes one, it deserves three pages in a sentencing memorandum?”
Cosby has remained out of prison for the past five months on $1 million bail, and his lawyers said they plan to appeal his convictions. Cosby could also be allowed to remain out of prison until his legal appeals are resolved.
The decision is ultimately up to O’Neill, who oversaw Cosby’s 2018 retrial, as well as his mistrial a year earlier that ended in a hung jury.
Constand’s family speaks
During victim impact statements on Monday, Constand’s mother told the court that her family feels vindicated.
“This battle was about justice and our family feels that we have been vindicated,” Gianna Constand said. “The victims cannot be unraped, all we can do is hold the perpetrators responsible.”
Andrea Constand’s father, Andrew, told the court: “The thought of what happened to my daughter … will always be with me forever like a dark cloud hanging over my head.”
Monday’s sentencing came as Cosby’s defense team has accused O’Neill of bias and asked him to remove himself from the case — and to reverse an order that allowed the trial to happen in the first place.
At issue was a “nasty” personal conflict involving a prior district attorney, Bruce Castor, Cosby’s team argued. O’Neill last week denied the motion, calling it untimely and “wholly without merit,” court records show.
Camille Cosby, Bill Cosby’s wife, said in a statement that she had retained a former prosecutor to facilitate her efforts to “uncover the truth” regarding what she says is a feud between O’Neill and Castor.