Bill Cosby, 81-year-old American comedian could face the rest of his life in jail after he was found guilty of sexual assault in April after a jury heard allegations from Andrea Constand.
If sentenced for his crimes, Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill who will have the final say Monday could put Cosby on probation, house arrest or throw him into prison.
Cosby was found guilty on three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault for drugging and molesting Constand, 45, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
The guilty verdict brought an end to a long-running downward spiral for Cosby, who was accused by dozens of women of similar crimes after public interest in his rape allegations was renewed.
Constand’s allegations are in line with others, but hers were unique in that the statute of limitations on the crime had not yet expired.
Sentencing begins Monday and is expected to last two days. While the judge will ultimately have the final say in Cosby’s punishment, the potential consequences for Cosby’s crimes allow for many options.
The maximum term is 10 years per count. However, a smaller jail stint, house arrest and probation are also on the table for the embattled former comedian.
Given his advanced age and health issues, it’s likely that Cosby’s legal team will argue for a lesser sentence than the max 30 years. Regardless, his lawyers previously made it clear that he plans to appeal the verdict.
His trial is being heralded as the first major celebrity trial of the #MeToo era. As a result, there’s massive public attention being paid to the outcome with those coming out against Cosby wondering if the court will give him a pass in terms of punishment given his fame.
“I really think it’s important that he spend some time behind bars,” said Lise-Lotte Lublin, who said Cosby assaulted her when she was 23 in 1989. The then-model said Cosby prodded her to take two drinks to relax. “At some point, he should acknowledge what he’s done, and do the time for the crime.”
Another Cosby accuser, Chelan Lasha, said he “deserves every year” of his potential 30-year sentence.
Once called “America’s Dad,” Cosby’s reputation has been in decline since comedian Hannibal Buress brought up the numerous rape allegations against the comic in 2014. Since then, more than 60 women have come forward with allegations against him.
Cosby and his legal team have shown that they want to mitigate the amount of damage being done to his reputation, starting with the classification of him as a “sexually violent predator.” Monday’s sentencing is expected to begin with a debate over this classification.
Pennsylvania’s sex-offender board has examined Cosby and recommended he be deemed a predator, concluding that he has a mental defect or personality disorder that makes him prone to criminal behavior.