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Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years in state prison

Judge labeled "America's Dad" a 'sexually violent predator' 

81-year-old Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to three to 10 years behind bars for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, becoming the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be sent to prison. 

September 25, 2018

Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to three to 10 years in prison by a Pennsylvania judge who had designated the comedian a "sexually violent predator."

Judge Steven O'Neill sentenced Cosby in a Norristown, Pennsylvania courtroom, capping a two-day hearing attended by about a dozen women who accused Cosby of sexual assault, including the Andrea Constand whom he was convicted of assaulting in his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

"This defendant is designated a sexually violent predator," O'Neill said from the bench before announcing Cosby's sentence.

O'Neill asked defense attorney Joseph Green whether Cosby wanted to make a statement before he is sentenced. Cosby declined.

Cosby appeared alert, cooperative and engaged earlier Tuesday morning as he answered series of questions from prosecutor M. Stuart Ryan designed to determine whether he fully comprehended the implications and consequences of the "sexually violent predator" designation.

Pennsylvania state law defines a person with such a designation has "a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses." The consequences of such a designation are severe and lifelong.

The designation also means that Cosby will be required by law to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and be subject to the most stringent requirements a sex offender can incur.

At one point, Cosby interrupted Ryan with a question: "If I went from the city to another city ... even if it's just overnight, do I have to get in touch with the state police?"

Ryan suggested Cosby seek the counsel of his attorneys.

Cosby's lawyers had pleaded with O'Neill Monday not to send the entertainer they described as an 81-year-old, infirmed blind man to prison but rather place him under house arrest.

But Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele asked O'Neill to incarcerate Cosby with a maximum sentence, arguing Monday that saying "he's too old to go to prison is a get-out-of-jail-free card."

Cosby appeared alert, cooperative and engaged earlier Tuesday morning as he answered series of questions from prosecutor M. Stuart Ryan designed to determine whether he fully comprehended the implications and consequences of the "sexually violent predator" designation.

Pennsylvania state law defines a person with such a designation has "a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses." The consequences of such a designation are severe and lifelong.

The designation also means that Cosby will be required by law to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and be subject to the most stringent requirements a sex offender can incur.

At one point, Cosby interrupted Ryan with a question: "If I went from the city to another city ... even if it's just overnight, do I have to get in touch with the state police?"

Ryan suggested Cosby seek the counsel of his attorneys.

Cosby's lawyers had pleaded with O'Neill Monday not to send the entertainer they described as an 81-year-old, infirmed blind man to prison but rather place him under house arrest.

Cosby was handcuffed and transported to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility until he is designated for his permanent new home in a state prison facility.

But Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele asked O'Neill to incarcerate Cosby with a maximum sentence, arguing Monday that saying "he's too old to go to prison is a get-out-of-jail-free card."

Judge Steven T. O'Neill of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas walks towards the courtroom on the second day of sentencing in Cosby's sexual assault trial, Sept. 25, 2018 in Norristown, Pa. (Mark Makela)

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