Bill Cosby has been sentenced to three to 10 years in a Pennsylvania State Prison for sexual assault.
Early on Tuesday, Judge Stephen O'Neill also ruled that Bill Cosby will be classified as a "sexually violent predator." The ruling will require the 81-year-old former television star and comedian to register as a sex offender and receive sex offender counselling for the rest of his life. He will also need to notify any community in which he lives of his "sexually violent predator" status.
Cosby was convicted in April of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former administrator at his alma mater, Temple University. The incident took place in 2004 in Cosby's Philadelphia home.
At Tuesday's sentencing hearing Constand submitted a victim's impact statement which detailed the emotional devastation the attack had on her life. She also addressed Cosby's many other accusers saying, "We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator, but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over."
Cosby's first trial ended in a mistrial after jurors failed to reach a consensus. At retrial, the judge allowed five women to testify that Cosby had assaulted them in ways similar to the attack on Constand. He was found guilty of three felony counts of assaulting Costand: penetration with lack of consent, penetration while unconscious, and penetration after administering an intoxicant.
Cosby is the first celebrity to be tried and convicted of sexual assault since allegations about film producer Harvey Weinstein emerged in October 2017, leading survivors of sexual misconduct to share their #MeToo stories.
While allegations of sexual assault had chased Cosby throughout his career, his public persona remained that of "America's Dad" — he starred as lovable doctor and family man Cliff Huxtable for eight years on the popular sitcom The Cosby Show. In 2014, comedian Hannibal Burress called out the disconnect between Cosby's image and the many allegations of sexual abuse that had been levelled against him saying, "People think I’m making it up. …That shit is upsetting. If you didn’t know about it, trust me. You leave here and Google ‘Bill Cosby rape.’ It’s not funny." Burress' remarks went viral, and were one of the many factors that galvanised other women to share their accusations against Cosby.
Nearly 50 women have come forward to say that they were assaulted by the television star in incidents going as far back as the 1960s. In a 2015 story, The Cut pointed out that Cosby's accusers represented a spectrum of women, including "supermodels Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson alongside waitresses and Playboy bunnies and journalists and a host of women who formerly worked in show business."