Day 1 of Bill Cosby‘s sentencing hearing — for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand 14 years ago — ended with a big break for the disgraced star, considering that he had been facing a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Cosby, 81, was greeted outside the Norristown, Pa., court on Monday by #MeToo protesters calling him a “rapist,” but that didn’t break his stride as he made his way into the courthouse with the assistance of his team. The actor is now legally blind. His wife, Camille, whom he married in 1964, did not accompany him to court.
The scene outside the court was quite a spectacle, but inside, Cosby was given some relatively good news. While his conviction on three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault had the potential to carry a 30-year sentence — with a maximum of 10 years each — Judge Steven O’Neill said that Cosby will be sentenced for just one count. The state guidelines recommend between one and four years for a single count, but the district attorney made sure to request the maximum 10 years, noting that Cosby has showed “no remorse,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Cosby’s legal team — his third since his December 2015 arrest — argued for leniency, given his age and frailty (including the problems with his vision).
Bill Cosby will be sentenced on one count of aggravated indecent assault – not three. Judge said prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to merge the charges.
— Laura McCrystal (@LMcCrystal) September 24, 2018
Constand, a former Temple University basketball team administrator who is now a massage therapist in Canada, delivered a brief victim impact speech. Her family was there to offer her moral support, and her mother, father, and sister all spoke. Her sister, Diana Parsons, called Constand “my hero,” noting, “After everything she has been through and will endure for the rest of her life, she still walks around with a bright smile and a positive attitude.”
Diana Parsons: “I always answer ‘(my sister) is doing fine thank you,’” when people ask. “I ask myself: How can she handle being called a pathological liar?…How did she have the courage to come forward and tell our mother what happened to her? And how will she ever trust again?”
— Laura McCrystal (@LMcCrystal) September 24, 2018
The other five Cosby accusers who testified during the trial — Janice Dickinson, Heidi Thomas, Chelan Lasha, Janice Baker-Kinney, and Lise-Lotte Lublin — were not permitted to speak at today’s hearing. However, several of the other accusers did attended the proceedings. Approximately 60 women in all came forward with accusations against Cosby — many of them with claims similar to Constand’s, spanning decades, of being drugged and then assaulted. Cosby is the first celebrity convicted on sex charges since the #MeToo movement exploded last year.
Cosby, once known as “America’s Dad” for his beloved series The Cosby Show, didn’t speak out or apologize for drugging Constand and then forcing himself on her as she slipped in and out of consciousness at Cosby’s Philadelphia-area home in 2004. However, that could come at a later point. Today, he let his attorneys do the talking. His lawyer Joseph Green spoke of Cosby’s childhood in Philadelphia and how his comedy brought together different races. (Cosby did not take the stand at either trial. The first trial, in 2017, ended in a hung jury.)
It will be determined tomorrow whether Cosby will be classified as a “sexually violent predator” and have to register as a sex offender. Pennsylvania state board psychologist Kristen Dudley testified that based on evidence from police reports and testimony, the TV star’s assault fits a long pattern of predatory behavior, arguing that he is likely to commit a similar crime if he is given that opportunity. However, a defense expert, a psychologist, who is also due to appear, is not available until Tuesday. If Cosby is found to be a “sexually violent predator,” additional requirements may be necessary. For instance, community notification of his whereabouts is mandated and he will be required to undergo lifetime counseling.
It has also yet to be determined whether Cosby will remain out of jail while his attorney appeals his conviction.
Cosby’s spokesperson Andrew Wyatt spoke to reporters outside the court, saying that he is in “great spirits” despite what he’s facing. He also said that Cosby is “still America’s Dad” despite his conviction. “You can’t take away the legacy,” he said.
Before the hearing started, Constand took to Twitter to share a passage from the New Testament.
Be wrathful, but do not sin; do not let the sun set while you are still angry; do not give the Devil an opportunity.
Ephesians 4: 26 🙌🏽
— Andrea Constand (@ConstandAndrea) September 24, 2018
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