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Bill Cosby, widely viewed as the first #MeToo defendant, was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. He was also classified as a sexually violent predator (SVP), which requires a lifetime registration, lifetime mandatory sex offender counseling, and notification to the community that a sexually violent predator lives in the area. He was also fined $25,000.
Cosby had been convicted in April 2018 of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, and both sides had agreed to merge these into one for sentencing purposes. Had he been sentenced separately without a merger, he faced up to 30 years in prison. Sentencing guidelines for the merged crimes suggest 22 to 36 months, plus or minus 12 months because of aggravating or mitigating circumstances. Prosecutors had asked for five to 10 years, and defense had asked for house arrest, given his advanced age (81) and blindness. It appears the judge sided with the prosecution's suggestion.
Prosecutors had asked the judge for the maximum sentence of five to 10 years in prison, a $25,000 fine, and attorney's fees. They believed Cosby never showed any emotion or sympathy for his victim. They attached Constand's victim impact statement, which was not read out loud in court. It contains many powerful statements, including why she didn't come forward sooner: "The shame was overwhelming. Self-doubt and confusion kept me from turning to my family or friends as I normally did. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself."
In total, 10 victims that have accused Cosby of sexual abuse, including Constand, were in the courtroom for sentencing. Kathy McKee, a former actress who has also accused Cosby of rape, said the trial had been emotionally hard for her, and that she was happy with the sentencing, and was grateful to Constand "for standing strong". Noticeably absent from the courtroom during sentencing was Camille Cosby, Bill's wife, and their three daughters.
This process has been a long time coming. Cosby was arrested in December 2015. His first trial in 2017 ended in a hung jury after six days of deliberation. This retrial began in April. Cosby will begin serving his sentence immediately. The judge denied Cosby's request to remain free on bail while he pursued his appeal.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of rape, contact your local law enforcement agency. Though the act itself is incredibly painful to live with, remaining silent may be even more painful.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.