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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Bill Cosby's day of reckoning arrives

Bill Cosby departs after a sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. Cosby's chief accuser on Monday asked for "justice as the court sees fit" as the 81-year-old comedian faced sentencing on sexual assault charges that could make him the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to go to prison. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Facing the possibility of prison at 81, Bill Cosby arrived at a suburban Philadelphia courthouse Tuesday to learn his punishment for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman over a decade ago in what led to the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.
Prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to give the comedian five to 10 years behind bars, while his lawyers asked for house arrest, saying the legally blind Cosby is too old and helpless to do time in prison.
Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said the former TV star planned to remain silent when given the opportunity to address the court. Cosby did not testify at either of his two trials.
The once-beloved entertainer dubbed America's Dad for his role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-ranked, 1980s-era "Cosby Show" faced anywhere from probation to 10 years in prison for violating Temple University women's basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his estate near Philadelphia in 2004.
In the years since Constand first went to authorities in 2005, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, though none of those claims have led to criminal charges.
Tuesday's sentencing was a reckoning accusers and prosecutors said was decades in the making.
"The victims cannot be un-raped. Unfortunately, all we can do is hold the perpetrator accountable," said Gianna Constand, the victim's mother, who testified Monday that her daughter's buoyant personality was forever changed after the attack.
The hearing was set to conclude Tuesday after testimony from a defense psychologist who says Cosby is no longer a danger, given his age, and should not be branded a "sexually violent predator."
Defense lawyer Joseph Green Jr. urged the judge ignore the protests and activism surrounding the case and send Cosby home.
"The suggestion that Mr. Cosby is dangerous is not supported by anything other than the frenzy," Green said as demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse.
Being labeled a sexually violent predator would make Cosby subject to mandatory lifetime counseling and community notification of his whereabouts.
On Monday, Kristen Dudley, a psychologist for the state of Pennsylvania, testified that Cosby fits the criteria for a sexually violent predator, showing signs of a mental disorder that involves an uncontrollable urge to have nonconsensual sex with young women.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said Cosby would no doubt commit similar crimes if given the chance, warning that the former TV star seemingly gets a sexual thrill out of slipping women drugs and assaulting them.
"To say that he's too old to do that — to say that he should get a pass, because it's taken this long to catch up to what he's done?" Steele said, his voice rising. "What they're asking for is a 'get out of jail free' card."
Cosby, he said, has shown repeatedly that he feels no remorse over his actions. And he said the sentence should send a message.
"Despite bullying tactics, despite PR teams and other folks trying to change the optics, as one lawyer for the defense put it, the bottom line is that nobody's above the law. Nobody," the district attorney said.
After testifying for several hours at two trials, the first of which ended in a hung jury, Constand spoke in court Monday for just two minutes.
"The jury heard me. Mr. Cosby heard me. Now all I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit," said Andrea Constand, who submitted a much longer victim-impact statement that wasn't read in court.
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, which Constand and other accusers have done.
Cosby's side didn't call any character witnesses, and his wife of 54 years, Camille, was not in court Monday.
Cosby became the first black actor to star in a prime-time TV show, "I Spy," in 1965. He remained a Hollywood A-lister for much of the next half-century.
The proceedings took place as another extraordinary #MeToo drama continued to unfold on Capitol Hill, where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces allegations of sexual misconduct from more than three decades ago.

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