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14 years and two trials later, Bill Cosby is led away in handcuffs

Minutes before a handcuffed Bil...

Posted: Sep 27, 2018 6:39 AM
Updated: Sep 27, 2018 6:39 AM

Minutes before a handcuffed Bill Cosby walked out of the courtroom as an 81-year-old convicted sex offender, he removed his dark pinstripe blazer and purple tie, and rolled up the sleeves on his crisp white shirt.

Judge Steven O'Neill had just sentenced Cosby to three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand 14 years ago. It took more than a decade, two trials and dozens of accusers to seal his fate.

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After the sentencing, the judge took a break to consider the defense attorney's request to free Cosby on bail during the appeal. As people waited for the judge's bail decision in the hallway, where court officials had ushered them, the man once known as "America's favorite father figure" sat with his attorneys and took off some of his clothes.

About 20 minutes later, the judge returned and said bail was not appropriate. Sheriff's deputies escorted Cosby out of the courtroom as he clutched a wooden cane with both hands.

Looking straight ahead, Cosby walked down a hallway and disappeared behind doors -- the final stages of a monthslong journey to state prison.

"Mr Cosby, any comments sir?" a reporter asked.

He did not say a word.

'The day has come'

During the sentencing, Cosby sat motionless in a courtroom packed with about 200 people.

A man who once rubbed elbows with some of Hollywood's biggest names only had attorneys and publicists with him in the courtroom. His wife, Camille, who'd stood by him throughout both trials, was nowhere to be seen. Neither were his children.

Cosby declined to address the courtroom during the sentencing hearing, and sat rigidly as O'Neill explained why state prison is mandated.

"This was a serious crime," said O'Neill, a judge in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. "Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come, the time has come."

Accuser's statement was crucial

Glancing toward Constand and her family, the judge said her impact statement was crucial in determining the sentence. Constand's attorney put her arm around her shoulder as the judge handed down the sentence.

Cosby remained expressionless when the judge read the sentence, and did not address the court during the sentencing hearing. "I do not need any more discussion on that," he responded to a question on whether he'd say something. When O'Neill asked him if he understood that decision, Cosby answered, "yes."

O'Neill said he would not hold it against Cosby that he didn't speak or testify.

Judge revoked Cosby's bail

After the sentence, the defense blurted out a request for bail during the appeal process, citing a problem with the audio recording of phone calls recorded by Constand.

O'Neill denied bail and in addition to years in prison, said Cosby will be classified as a "sexually violent predator," which requires lifetime registration, lifetime mandatory counseling and community notification that a "sexually violent predator" lives in any area he moves to.

As part of the sentence, the judge also ordered him to pay a fine of $25,000 plus the costs of prosecution. Cosby was booked into Montgomery County Correctional Facility and transferred to Pennsylvania's State Correctional Institute at Phoenix on Tuesday evening.

Though his three charges each carry a maximum possible sentence of 10 years, O'Neill said they were merged into one because they're from the same incident.

Cosby had remained out of prison for the past five months on $1 million bail, and his lawyers said they plan to appeal his convictions.

From father figure to convicted sex offender

Cosby gave Constand pills to incapacitate her and then sexually assaulted her in 2004. She told police about the incident in 2005, but prosecutors declined to press charges. They settled the case in civil court a year later.

A decade later, dozens of women came forward to say Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them over his decades as a powerful actor and comedian.

Constand's case was the only one that was within the statute of limitations. A new team of prosecutors took up the case based on Constand's and Cosby's statements in a civil deposition, and arrested him in December 2015.

A first criminal trial against Cosby ended in a hung jury. But in April, Cosby was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and assaulting Constand in the first high-profile celebrity criminal trial of the #MeToo era.

Victims react to sentence

Gloria Allred, who represents several women accusing Cosby of sexual assault, praised the sentence. Allred said Cosby showed no remorse, and justice had been elusive for other accusers barred from court by time limits imposed by the statute of limitations

Before the sentencing, Constand wrote a five-page letter to the court explaining how Cosby's assault -- and the ensuing legal battle -- had changed her life. As a Temple University employee, she looked up to Cosby, a Temple trustee, as a mentor and friend. He used that position of power and trust, as well as his public persona as television father figure Dr. Huxtable, to take advantage of her, she testified at trial.

"Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature and my trust in myself and others," she wrote in the impact statement.

O'Neill cited Constand's statement as a big part of his decision to sentence Cosby to prison time.

Several of Cosby's alleged victims were in court for the sentencing, including supermodel Janice Dickinson. She was one of five witnesses who testified at the criminal trial that Cosby had incapacitated and assaulted them without their consent.

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