ActivismSex & Gender

‘violent predator’ bill cosby gets 3-10 years in prison

September 25, 2018
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Though the allegations against Bill Cosby preceded #MeToo, his court case marked the first celebrity sexual assault trial of the #MeToo era. Tuesday morning, Cosby was sentenced to 3-10 years in a state prison, with Judge Steven T. O’Neill also upholding the ruling that identified the legendary comedian as predator and placing him on Pennsylvania’s Sexual Violent Predator registry and thus restricting his contact with children. Cosby was convicted in April of this year on three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004, crimes for which the 81-year-old originally faced up to 10 years per each count. Cosby faced accusations of sexual assault from at least 60 different women, who unveiled decades of Cosby’s behavior.

Constand is a former Temple University Women’s Basketball team employee who testified that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004 when she visited his Philadelphia home to ask for career advice. Constand said she considered Cosby a mentor and a trusted figure. This is not the first time the two found themselves on opposite sides of a courtroom: last June, the first case against the comedian resulted in a mistrial. It was also revealed that a 2006 civil suit was settled with Cosby paying Constand $3.38 million, which was used against Constand by Cosby’s lawyers to undermine her testimony. The defense also argued that Constand and Cosby had a consensual sexual relationship, but the claim, along with other tactics, could not prevent the guilty verdict handed down in April.

Cosby’s sentencing proceedings began Monday morning in Montgomery County with the Cosby’s legal team arguing that registering the comedian as a sexual offender was unconstitutional as it would prevent the octogenarian from seeing his grandchildren. The prosecution countered with the argument that “Bill Cosby should be labeled a ‘sexually violent predator’ because he has a mental disorder that involves urges toward non-consenting women,” according to the testimony of Kristen Dudley, a psychologist and a member of the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board. Dudley’s testimony corroborates the State’s claim that Cosby is likely to re-offend, even going as far as speculating that the comedian might have already met his latest victim.

“The current law means that someone with a Sexually Violent Predator Assessment would require registering upon release, and then informing the PA State Police of changes in residence and employer, as well as a quarterly in-person check-in and counseling.” – CNN

The length of the sentence was dependent on whether Cosby will be classified a Sexually Violent Predator by Judge Stephen T. O’Neill and according to the Judge’s ruling on the morning of the 25th of September, Cosby was ruled as an SVP. All three of Cosby’s criminal counts were merged because they all stem from the same event, culminating in the 3-10 year sentence handed down this afternoon. Cosby’s defense team fought for house arrest and in the wake of the sentencing, have voiced their intention to appeal the conviction.

Cosby’s sentencing offers hope in the time of #MeToo, but it did take 35 years of the actor/comedian drugging and assaulting women with impunity before he had to face real consequences. Societal attitudes towards sexual assault victims are vile at best and the justice system is not far behind (with Supreme Court judges and nominees still being supported when faced with sexual assault allegations). Cosby is in his twilight years, having lived a full life with a successful career – his defense has used that reasoning to secure the man a lighter sentence but it should be motivation enough for the justice system to ensure that Cosby pays back the immeasurable debt he owes to his many, many victims.

3-10 years is nowhere near enough penance for the atrocities Bill Cosby has committed against women that placed their trust in him. For Andrea Constand’s sake, I hope that the ruling provides her with a semblance of the peace Cosby robbed her of 14 years ago. Cosby’s age and resources will likely prevent him from facing the full extent of the justice he truly deserved but at this point in time, we can all agree that whatever happens to the comedian, the Bill Cosby we know is dead.