Bill Cosby departs after his sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. Cosby left in handcuffs to begin serving a three-to-10 year prison sentence for sexual assault. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Bill Cosby Sentenced To 3 To 10 Years In State Prison For Sex Assault

September 25, 2018 - 9:25 pm

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (WCBS 8980/AP) — His Hollywood career and good-guy image in ruins, Bill Cosby was led away to prison in handcuffs Tuesday at age 81 for perhaps the rest of his days, sentenced to three to 10 years behind bars for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his gated estate.

The punishment all but completed the dizzying, late-in-life fall from grace for the comedian, former TV star and breaker of racial barriers.

The entertainer once known as "America's Dad'' was convicted in April of sexually assaulting Temple University women's basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia estate in 2004.

"It is time for justice. Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The time has come," Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said. He quoted from Constand's own statement to the court, in which she said Cosby took her "beautiful, young spirit and crushed it."

Cosby declined the opportunity to speak before the sentence came down, and afterward he sat and chatted with his spokesman and a lawyer, seemingly in good spirits. His wife of 54 years, Camille, was not in court. Constand smiled upon hearing the punishment and was hugged by others in the courtroom.

As the sentence was handed down, CBS News Correspondent Matt Pieper reported Cosby was stoic and "did not move a muscle."

In a blistering statement, Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said the comic was subjected to "most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States."

Among other things, Wyatt said all three of the psychologists who testified against Cosby were "white women who make money off of accusing black men of being sexual predators," and he accused prosecutors of using a doctored recording of a telephone conversation between Constand's mother and Cosby.
 
Cosby's lawyers asked that he be allowed to remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction, but the judge appeared incredulous over the request and ordered him locked up immediately, saying that "he could quite possibly be a danger to the community."

Cosby was also fined $25,000.

Former model Janice Dickinson, who was among the 60 or so women who have come forward to accuse Cosby of drugging and violating them over the past five decades, looked at Cosby and said: "Here's the last laugh pal."

Another Cosby accuser in the courtroom, Lili Bernard, said: "There is solace, absolutely. It is his fame and his fortune and his phony philanthropy that has allowed him to get away with impunity. Maybe this will send a message to other powerful perpetrators that they will be caught and punished."

This image provided by the Montgomery County Correctional Facility shows Bill Cosby on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, after he was sentenced to three-to 10-years for sexual assault. (Montgomery County Correctional Facility via AP)

The comedian — who is legally blind and uses a cane — removed his watch, tie and jacket and walked out in a white dress shirt and red suspenders, his hands cuffed in front of him. He appeared downcast, his eyes failing to meet the camera, in a mug shot released by authorities.

He must serve the minimum of three years before becoming eligible for parole.

Cosby will spend his first night behind bars at a new state prison in suburban Philadelphia.

Cosby spent a few hours at the county jail Tuesday before heading to SCI Phoenix, a 3,830-bed lockup that opened two months ago. Corrections officials at Phoenix will assess Cosby's needs to determine where he'll serve the bulk of his state prison sentence.

District Attorney Kevin Steele says Cosby could wind up at SCI Laurel Highlands, a prison for lower-risk inmates on the other side of the state, about 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

SCI Laurel Highlands serves inmates with special needs and has separate housing units for its geriatric inmates. 

"For decades, the defendant has been able to hide his true self and hide his crimes using his fame and fortune. He's hidden behind a character created, Dr. Cliff Huxtable," Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said at a news conference, referring to Cosby's best-known role. But "now, finally, Bill Cosby has been unmasked, and we have seen the real man as he is headed off to prison."

Constand stood at Steele's side but shook her head to say she had no comment.
 
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The punishment came at the end of a two-day hearing at which the judge declared Cosby a "sexually violent predator" — a modern-day scarlet letter that subjects him to monthly counseling for the rest of his life and requires that neighbors and schools be notified of his whereabouts.

Cosby's lawyers had fought the "sexually violent predator" designation, arguing that Pennsylvania's sex-offender law remains unconstitutional and that he is no threat to the public at his age. But O'Neill said prosecutors had met their burden of proof by "clear and convincing" evidence.

When the ruling came down, a woman in courtroom shot her fist into the air and whispered, "Yessss!"

Meanwhile, Constand said in a statement submitted to the ocurt and released Tuesday that she has had to cope with years of anxiety and self-doubt that have left her "stuck in a holding pattern."

Constand, 45, said her training as a professional basketball player had led her to think she could handle anything, but "life as I knew it" ended on the night that Cosby knocked her out with pills and violated her.

Constand said she now lives alone with her two dogs and has trouble trusting people.

"When the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities," she wrote in her five-page statement.

"Now, almost 15 years later, I'm a middle-aged woman who's been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward."

In the years since Constand first went to authorities in 2005, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, though none of those claims have led to criminal charges.

The judge ruled on Cosby's sex-offender status after a defense psychologist, Timothy Foley, testified that the chances of the comedian committing another sex offense are "extraordinarily low" because he is old, legally blind and needs help getting around.

On Monday, a psychologist for the state testified that Cosby appears to have a mental disorder that gives him an uncontrollable urge to assault women.

Cosby was smiling and joking with his spokesman and sheriff's deputies as he settled into the courtroom Tuesday. On Day 1 of the sentencing, the comic laughed at times as the psychologist on the stand for the state portrayed him as a sexual predator with signs of a mental disorder.

Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom; they are generally banned in Pennsylvania.

The 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.

Tuesday's sentencing was a reckoning accusers and prosecutors said was decades in the making for the once-beloved entertainer known for his role as wise and understanding Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-ranked, 1980s-era "Cosby Show."

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 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.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)