Bill Cosby May Be Classified As A Sexual Predator By Judge — But What Does That Mean?

Photo: Matt Slocum/AP Photo.
Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 60 women. Now, after years of alleged harassment and abuse — and an official conviction — a Pennsylvania judge may rule in favor of officially classifying the fallen idol as a "sexually violent predator."
The recommendation, according to USA Today, came directly from the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board (SOAB) nearly three months after a state jury found Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in the trial for Andrea Constand, who accused Cosby of drugging and assaulting her in 2004.
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One of the items that needs to be decided is how Cosby will be classified according to Pennsylvania state law, and the state's definition of a sexually violent predator could make the issue more complex. SOAB defines a sexually violent predator as a convicted sex offender who has "a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses." Judge Steven T. O'Neill, therefore, will have to closely examine Cosby's mental and personality traits to make a sound decision.
Being classified as a sexually violent predator in the state of Pennsylvania carries a heavy weight. First, predators have to complete a lifetime registration with the state police department. Once that's done, officials will notify school districts, youth agencies, and the predator's neighbors of his status, as well as his residential address. But the predator won't be allowed to disappear completely from the public eye because he's required to attend monthly sex offender counseling sessions for the rest of his life.
Cosby's attorney, Joseph P. Green Jr., publicly released a motion on Thursday asking the court to dismiss SOAB's ruling, which he called "unconstitutional."*
"The true facts establish that this defendant is not a sexually violent predator," the motion reads. "The single Board member who conducted the 'assessment' did not conduct any 'hearing' and considered and apparently credited largely irrelevant and improper information, apparently without fairly considering the propriety and credibility of the sources of the information relied upon, without any right to a fair hearing, and without confrontation and cross-examination."
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SOAB's recommendation has already resonated with the state of Massachusetts. According to the Boston Herald, state and local authorities will now require Cosby to register "if he spends four days in one month or 14 days in a year" in the state. This determination is likely to irk Cosby, who owns an estate near the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Cosby denies all allegations of nonconsensual sexual interactions. His sentencing trial begins on September 24.
*This story was originally published on July 25, additional reporting was added.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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