Bill Cosby faces sentencing over sex assault


The sentencing hearing for Bill Cosby, the comedian once known as “America’s Dad”, began with a debate of whether he is a “sexually violent predator”.

The official label would put Cosby on the sex offender registry and require him to undergo counseling for life.

Cosby’s defence said this predator law was unconstitutional and too severe.

At a retrial in April, the 81-year-old actor was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against ex-basketball player Andrea Constand in 2004.

Ms Constand said she had viewed him as a “mentor” before he abused her.

In June 2017, she described being given pills that left her “frozen” and unable to stop Cosby from assaulting her.

A state board has recommended that Cosby be labelled as a sexually violent predator.

The two-day hearing at Montgomery County Courthouse in Pennsylvania began on Monday with testimony from psychologist Kristen Dudley.

Ms Dudley testified that Cosby’s behaviour showed a dangerous pattern of predation due to a mental disorder.

“The behaviors are beyond their controls, so they are urged to act on it. He is likely to reoffend,” Ms Dudley said, according to CNN.

Cosby’s defence team, however, said that given his age and the fact that he is legally blind, the designation was too severe a punishment and that the classification process was unconstitutional.

Judge Steven O’Neill has not ruled whether Cosby will receive the predator designation, but he did state that the law was constitutional.

The 81-year-old also faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison over the sexual assault charges, but at the hearing, his spokesman insisted he was “still America’s dad”.

“You can’t take away the legacy,” spokesman Andrew Wyatt told reporters.

Cosby himself will not be taking the stand during the sentencing.

On Monday, Ms Constand tweeted a passage on containing anger from the New Testament.

“I wasn’t able to fight it in any way,” she had told the court during her testimony. “I wanted it to stop.”

Lise-Lotte Lublin and former model Janice Dickinson – both Cosby accusers – were also present in the courtroom on Monday.

What could he be sentenced with?

There is a wide range of possibilities for Cosby’s sentence.

He could receive a prison term of up to 10 years for each count – which legal commentators have said is unlikely to happen.

Alternatively, all three counts may be merged into a single term of up to 10 years.

There is no mandatory minimum for the convictions. That means Cosby could be sentenced to probation, or to continued house arrest.

If the judge rules he is a sexually violent predator, he will need to register with state police and notify any community he lives in of his status, as well as undergo mandatory sex offender counselling for life.

The 81-year-old has been free on $1 million bail, but has to wear a GPS monitoring device. He can only leave his home with prior permission, to meet his lawyers or get medical treatment.

Whatever the outcome, the sentencing marks an astonishing fall from grace for the comedian – the culmination of decades of sexual assault accusations from more than 60 women across the US.


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