Cosby Sentenced To 3 To 10 Years In Prison
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Three to 10 years in prison - that's the sentence handed down today to Bill Cosby. The judge declared the 81-year-old actor and comedian a sexually violent predator. He ordered Cosby locked up immediately. Bill Cosby was convicted in April for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Well, after today's sentencing, some of Cosby's other accusers stood in the rain outside the courthouse and welcomed the judge's decision. Lise-Lotte Lublin was one of them.
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LISE-LOTTE LUBLIN: This is just going to show victims that they can make it through and that there's justice at the end and hallelujah.
KELLY: Reporter Bobby Allyn of member station WHYY was at the sentencing hearing today in Norristown, Pa., and he joins me now. Hi, Bobby.
BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Hey.
KELLY: Start with just a little more detail on what exactly the judge ruled today.
ALLYN: So Cosby's sentence of at least three years in state prison is on the upper end of Pennsylvania's sentencing guidelines. It's considered a stiff punishment, especially in light of how, you know, over the last two days, Cosby's lawyers have tried to argue that he should just be placed on house arrest because he's elderly and he's blind.
Once it was clear that wasn't going to happen, Cosby's legal team asked that he be released on bail while he appeals, and that caused a lot of back and forth. Both sides went to judge's chambers. But then the judge came out, and he said, look; I'm not persuaded. The judge said Bill Cosby will be arrested right now and taken immediately into custody. And then I watched sheriff's deputies escort Cosby out with his hands cuffed in front of him. And he had this thin wooden cane between his wrists, and he made no comment. He just looked down and shuffled away.
KELLY: That's an image that will stick with me and I'm sure with you. You mentioned that this is not exactly what the defense had wanted to come out of today's proceedings. It's also not what the prosecuted - prosecution wanted. I'll get it out eventually.
KELLY: They had wanted more time for him.
ALLYN: Yeah, that's right. So the maximum possible punishment under Pennsylvania law for aggravated indecent assault, which is what Cosby was convicted of by the jury in April, is 10 years behind bars. The prosecution knew they were aiming really high by going for the absolute max. Under the guidelines for someone like Cosby with no prior record, the top range is four. So three to 10 years, the prosecution said, is still something they're OK with, they're satisfied with.
KELLY: We mentioned he was also officially declared a sexually violent predator. What's the significance of that?
ALLYN: Yeah, so it's almost like a modern-day scarlet letter in a way. It's this lifetime designation reserved for the most dangerous sexual offenders. And what it basically means is that once Cosby's released, he'll have to attend monthly counseling. It also means if he wants to travel, he's got to alert state police about his whereabouts. And for the rest of Bill Cosby's life, he'll be a registered sexual offender. And that information is sent to local schools and his neighbors in suburban Philadelphia.
KELLY: What was the reaction like in the courtroom today as the sentencing was read out?
ALLYN: Yeah, the courtroom was extremely crowded. And, you know, Cosby's main accuser, Andrea Constand, and her family sat in the first row. When the sentence came down, she didn't react that much. I looked back, and there was six Cosby accusers all sitting together. They didn't react very much. And Cosby, too, was kind of stony faced. The whole room was eerily quiet. But, you know, everyone was containing their emotions there, but it really erupted - emotions really erupted once the accusers saw with their own eyes Cosby led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. Some had tears rolling down their face. Others hugged and weeped (ph).
And Andrea Constand - she didn't have much to say during sentencing, but she did submit a statement to the judge that read, we may never know the full extent of Cosby's double life as a sexual predator, but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over. That was a comment that she wrote directly to the presiding judge, Steven O'Neill.
KELLY: Bobby Allyn, thank you.
ALLYN: Thanks so much.
KELLY: Bobby Allyn of member station WHYY. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.