NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby, who fell from grace as “America’s Dad” to convicted sex offender, was sentenced Tuesday to three to 10 years in state prison.
The 81-year-old comedian was convicted in April of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball administrator, who testified Cosby violated her at his Pennsylvania home in 2004 after she came to him for career advice.
“Nobody is above the law because of where they live, who they are, wealth, fame, celebrity or even philanthropy,” said Judge Steven O’Neill, who presided over the sentencing hearing.
Cosby, renowned for his role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show,” had been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women, but was only criminally charged in Constand’s case. Cosby is the first star of his caliber to be convicted of sexual assault in the age of #MeToo.
The actor has repeatedly denied all allegations of sexual misconduct. He had faced up to 10 years in prison.
O’Neill ruled earlier Tuesday that Cosby is a “sexually violent predator.”
The distinction under Pennsylvania law means Cosby will have to undergo monthly counseling, and register with police if he moves so that neighbors and schools will be alerted if he lives nearby.
Cosby asked if he would have to register if he travels to another city overnight. He was told he would.
Cosby was also given a chance to speak in his defense on Tuesday, but declined. When he was asked if he wanted to add anything, he said, “I don’t need any more discussion on that.”
The defense also did not call any character witnesses.
Cosby’s lawyers argued he should serve his time on house arrest, given his age.
Prosecutors asked that Cosby be given five to 10 years in prison and pay a 25,000 fine on top of court costs given that he has allegedly hurt many people and shown no remorse.
“To say he is too old to [go to prison], that he should get a pass because it has taken this long to catch up for what he has done … what they are asking for is a get out of jail free card,” prosecutor Kevin Steele said. “Nobody is above the law. Nobody.”
Constand, 45, was given a chance to speak during the sentencing hearing Monday, and addressed the court for less than two minutes, but submitted a victim impact statement that was released Tuesday.
In the statement, Constand said she was “at the top of my game” — physically, professionally and emotionally — before Cosby assaulted her.
“I knew who I was and I liked who I was,” she wrote. But “Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it,” Constand wrote. “He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in my self and others.”
Constand said reliving the assault in court during the first trial, which ended in a mistrial in June 2017, and in the retrial, along with the criticism she took on as a result, left her feeling “traumatized all over again.” But she said she knew she had to speak out in an effort to save possible future victims from Cosby, and with the hope of helping all sexual assault victims.
She said she has often expected to find a sense of peace and closure after the assault, but “almost 15 years later, I’m a middle-aged women who’s been stuck in a holding pattern most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or move forward.”
Adam Reiss reported from Norristown, and Elisha Fieldstadt reported from New York.