Bill Cosby sentenced to prison for sexual assault

Bill Cosby has been sentenced to state prison nearly five months following his sexual assault conviction.

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, the 81-year-old comedian received a sentence of three to ten years behind bars following his two-day sentencing hearing in Montgomery County, Penn., CNN reports. 

"This was a serious crime," Judge Steven O'Neill said on Tuesday. "Mr. Cosby this has all circled back to you. The day has come, the time has come." Prior to delivering the sentence, the judge also noted, "No one is above the law, and no one should be treated differently or disproportionally." He added, "I have given great weight to the victim impact testimony in this case, and it was powerful." 

Cosby, who has also been denied bail, will be required to pay for the cost of prosecution and a $25,000 fine, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office noted on Twitter. He has since left court in handcuffs and is expected to go straight to prison, The New York Times reports. However, Cosby's defense team is expected to appeal the judge's decision.

According to Page Six, O'Neill had classified Cosby as a "sexually violent predator" earlier in the day on Tuesday. As such, he will be required to register as a sex offender with the Pennsylvania state police, in addition to receiving mandatory monthly counseling for the rest of his life.

As Nicki Swift previously reported, Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in late April 2018 for drugging and sexually assaulting Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004. While he faced up to ten years in prison for each count, it was believed at the time that he would most likely serve the sentences concurrently. Over the course of the 12-day trial, Constand and five other women, including supermodel Janice Dickinson, testified against Cosby, claiming that they'd also been drugged and sexually assaulted by him. At the time of this writing, over 50 women have accused him of sexual assault. The conviction followed Cosby's initial 2017 trial, which had been declared a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a verdict. 

Hours before Cosby's sentencing, the prosecuting team released a five-page letter Constand had written to the judge. "To truly understand the impact that the sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened," she wrote in part, adding, "After the assault, I wasn't sure what had actually happened but the pain spoke volumes. 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" (via Entertainment Tonight). Constand added, "Now, almost 15 years later, I'm a middle aged woman who's been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or move forward."

Meanwhile, CNN reports that one of the prosecuting attorneys, Gloria Allred, has since called the judge's decision a "just outcome," adding, "This has been a long journey to justice for all of the accusers, particularly for Andrea Constand and for her family. And we respect the fact that they have undergone and endured this journey to justice."

Amid the #MeToo movement, multiple men in the entertainment industry have been accused of sexual misconduct since last October when Harvey Weinstein's alleged 30-year history of sexual abuse was first uncovered. While the initiative has continued to expose abuses of power in Hollywood — more recently including former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, who resigned from his position earlier this month — Cosby is notably the first celebrity in this new era to be imprisoned over sex crime charges.