NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania—The prosecutor in the Bill Cosby case asked the judge to sentence the disgraced star to between five and 10 years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home in 2004.
That’s even more than the sentencing guidelines call for. And the district attorney also wants Cosby to pay a $25,000 fine and the cost of both of his trials–the one that ended with a hung jury last year and the one that resulted in his conviction this spring.
“Nobody is above the law,” Montgomery County DA Kevin Steele told the judge Monday during the first part of a two-day sentencing hearing. “Nobody.”
Cosby deserves this longer sentence because of “the seriousness of the offense, the impact of the offense on the victim, on the family, on the community,” Steele said. “We ask this because of who he is behind the mask; behind the act that he perpetuated for all of the years that he did… because of showing again and again no acceptance of responsibility, no remorse.
“In many ways, we have been led to believe that he simply doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong,” Steele said, his voice rising. “The jury spoke loud and clear with one voice. They said guilty,”
Joseph Greene, Jr., one of Cosby’s new attorneys, argued the comedian should get house arrest.
“Mr. Cosby is not dangerous,” he said. “He’s an 81-year-old blind man.”
Cosby was found guilty on April 26 of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in connection with the assault on Andrea Constand, now 45, at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania mansion in January 2004.
Constand is one of dozens of women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, but her case is the only one that resulted in criminal charges, in part because statutes of limitations had passed for most others.
Theoretically, the man once called “America’s Dad” faced up to 10 years in prison on each count, but the defense and prosecution agreed to fold the charges into one. The sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of 22 to 36 months, plus or minus 12 months for aggravating or mitigating factors, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill said.
Before O’Neill sentences Cosby, he has to resolve whether he will be designated a sexually violent predator—a label the entertainer is fighting against.
At Monday’s hearing, psychologist Kristen Dudley, testifying for the prosecution, said Cosby has a paraphilic sexual disorder involving non-consenting women and would likely strike again if given the opportunity—a determination she based on trial transcripts and police records because Cosby refused to be evaluated by her.
Greene countered that Cosby is too old to reoffend and lined up another psychological expert, Dr. Timothy Foley, who will testify Tuesday morning.
Several of Cosby’s accusers sat in the spectator seats during the hearing. Tamara Green, who was the second woman to go public with accusations and who is suing Cosby for defamation, was there. So were three of the women who testified against Cosby during the second trial: Lise Lotte-Lublin, Chelan Lasha and ex-model Janice Dickinson.
Lasha, who wept throughout her testimony in April, was emotional as the case drew to a close.
“This is going to be big for me,” she said during a court break, fighting off tears. “This is going to turn my life back around to the way it was when I was 17, before this happened.”
Constand sat in the third row with her attorneys, Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz, to her left and her sister and her parents to her right. She chose to have her statement admitted into the record instead of delivering it herself.
“I have testified,” she said, with her red-rimmed bifocals perched on her nose as she glanced through her statement. “The jury heard me. And now all I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit.”
Her parents and sister read their statements in the packed courtroom, their voices choked with emotion at times, shattering Constand’s composure.
“This matter was about justice and my daughter and our family feel we have been vindicated,” her mother, Gianna Constand, said. “And I can only hope and pray that soon some sense of peace will go back into our family… The victims cannot be unraped. All we can do is hold the perpetrator accountable.”
Andrea’s father, Andrew, a masseur like his daughter, said the deep pain he felt after finding out what Cosby did to his daughter left him unable to sleep without Ativan. Today, he takes double the dose “to cope with the past,” he said.
“We live and breathe Andrea’s discomforts every day,” he said. “The thought of what happened to my daughter will always be with me forever like a dark cloud hanging over my head.”
The family members spoke of how different Andrea was when she returned home to Canada in April 2004, three months after the sexual assault, transforming her from the confident, happy, carefree woman they’d always known to someone they barely recognized.
“I observed a frail, timid, nervous, weak, reclusive site,” said her sister, Diana Parsons. “When I was made aware of what happened to her, I felt shocked and helpless.”
People always ask her how her sister is doing, she said, and she always tells them she’s doing fine.
“But immediately after I ask myself, ‘How can she handle being called a pathological liar? How can she handle being called a gold-digger?’“ she said, referring to the defense’s portrayal of her sister. “And how will she ever trust again?
Yet, “after everything she has been through, she still walks around with a bright smile and a positive attitude,” Parsons said. “She is my hero.”