Posted: September 25, 2018
By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
NORRISTOWN, Pa. —
Bill Cosby was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in state prison Tuesday. The sentencing comes five months after he was found guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004.
Constand came forward to accuse Cosby of “inappropriate touching” in 2005. Cosby settled with Constand in 2006.
Cosby’s sentencing came less than a year after a jury deadlocked on the same drugging and molestation charges.
Read Constand’s victim impact statement below:
“To truly understand the impact that sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person I was before it happened.
“At the time of the assault, I was 30 years old, and a fit, confident athlete. I was strong, and skilled, with great reflexes, agility and speed. When I graduated from high school in Toronto, I was one of the top three female high school basketball players in Canada. Dozens of American colleges lined up to offer me basketball scholarships, and I chose the University of Arizona.
“For four years, I was a shooting guard on the women’s basketball team, scoring up to 30 points a game. It was an amazing time in my life, and I learned a lot, developed a circle of really good friends, many of them teammates, and traveled around the U.S. to compete.
“The only downside was that I missed my family, and developed severe homesickness when it started to affect my studies and my training, my dad came up with the idea to move his own father and mother to Tucson.
“My grandparents were in their late 60s when they gamely agreed to move more than 2,000 miles to help me adjust to life away from home. They were retired after selling their Toronto restaurant business, and figured the warm, dry climate would suit them anyway. I had always enjoyed a special relationship with my grandparents. Not only had I grown up in their home, but I spoke Greek before I spoke English. They got an apartment close to mine, and I was there most days, talking and laughing over my favorite home-cooked meals. The homesickness quickly evaporated.
“After I graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in communications, I signed a two-year contract to play professional basketball for Italy. Going pro took my athletic training to a whole new level. once again, I thrived in the team atmosphere, and enjoyed traveling Europe although we rarely saw more than the basketball venues and the hotel rooms where we slept.
“When my contract ended, my former coach from the University of Arizona encouraged me to apply for a job as director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia. It was a busy, challenging position that required me to manage a lot of logistical details so that others could focus on training the team for competition. I also made all the travel arrangements and went to tournaments with the team and support staff.
“It was a great job but after a few years, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the healing arts, my other passion. I also wanted to work closer to home, where I would be reunited with my large, extended family, and many friends.
“I knew who I was and I liked who I was. I was at the top of my game, certain that the groundwork provided by my education and athletic training would stand me in good stead whatever challenges lay ahead.
“How wrong I was. In fact, nothing could have prepared me for an evening of January 2004, when life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt.
“I had just given my two-month notice at Temple when the man I had come to know as a mentor and friend drugged and sexually assaulted me. Instead of being able to run, jump and pretty much do anything I wanted physically, during the assault, I was paralyzed and completely helpless. I could not move my arms or legs. I couldn’t speak or even remain conscious. I was completely vulnerable, and powerless to protect myself.
“After the assault, I wasn’t sure what had actually happened but the pain spoke volumes. The shame was overwhelming. Self-doubt and confusion kept me from turning to my family or friends as I normally did. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself.
“I made it through the next few weeks by focusing on work. The women’s basketball team was in the middle of the Atlantic 10 tournament, and was traveling a lot. It was an extremely busy time for me, and the distraction helped take my mind off what had happened.
“When the team wasn’t on the road, however, I was in the basketball office at Temple, and was required to interact with Mr. Cosby, who was on the board of trustees. The sound of his voice over the phone felt like a knife going through my guts. The sight of the man who drugged and sexually assaulted me coming into the basketball office filled me with dread. I did everything with my job required of me but kept my head down, counting the days until I could return to Canada. I trusted that once I left, things would get back to normal.
“Instead, the pain and anguish came with me. At my parent’s house, where I was staying until I got settled, I couldn’t talk, eat, sleep or socialize. Instead of feeling less alone because I was back home with my family, I felt more isolated than ever. Instead of my legendary big appetite and “hollow leg” — a running joke in my family — I picked at my food, looking more like a scarecrow with each passing week. I was always a sound sleeper but now I couldn’t sleep for more than two or three hours. I felt exhausted all the time.
“I used the demands of my new courses to opt out of family gatherings and events, and to avoid going out with friends. As far as anyone could tell, I was preoccupied with my studies. But the terrible truth about what had happened to me — at the hands of a man my family and friends admired and respected — was swirling around inside me.
“Then the nightmares started. I dreamed that another woman was being assaulted right in front of me and it was all my fault. in the dream, I was consumed with guilt, and pretty soon, that agonizing feeling spilled over into my waking hours too. I became more and more anxious that what had happened to me was going to happen to someone else. I grew terrified that it might already be too late, that the sexual assaults were continuing because I didn’t speak out.
“Then one morning I called my mother on the telephone to tell her what had happened to me. She had heard me cry out in my sleep. She wouldn’t let me put her off, and insisted that I tell her what was wrong. She wouldn’t settle for anything less than a complete and truthful explanation.
“Reporting the assault to the Durham Regional police in Toronto only intensified the fear and pain, making me feel more vulnerable and ashamed than ever. When the Montgomery County District Attorney outside Philadelphia decided not to prosecute for lack of evidence, we were left with no sense of validation or justice. After we launched civil claims, the response from Mr. Cosby’s legal team was swift and furious. it was meant to frighten and intimidate and it worked.
“The psychological, emotional and financial bullying included a slander campaign in the media that left my entire family reeling in shock and disbelief. Instead of being praised as a straight-shooter, I was called a gold-digger, a con artist, and a pathological liar. My hard-working middle-class parents were accused of trying to get money from a rich and famous man.
“At the deposition during the civil trial, I had to relive every moment of the sexual assault in horrifying detail in front of Mr. Cosby and his lawyers. I felt traumatized all over again and was often in tears. I had to watch Cosby make jokes and attempt to degrade and diminish me, while his lawyers belittled and sneered at me. It deepened my sense of shame and helplessness, and at the end of each day, I left emotionally drained and exhausted.
“When the case closed with a settlement, sealed testimony and a nondisclosure agreement, I thought that finally — finally — I could get on with my life, that this awful chapter in my life was over at last. These exact same feelings followed me throughout both criminal trials. The attacks on my character continued, spilling over outside the courtroom steps attempting to discredit me, and cast me in false light. These character assassinations have caused me to suffer insurmountable stress and anxiety, which I still experience today.
“I still didn’t know that my sexual assault was just the tip of the iceberg.
“Now, more than 60 other women have self-identified as sexual assault victims of Bill Cosby. We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.
“I have often asked myself why the burden of being the sole witness in two criminal trials had to fall to me. The pressure was enormous. I knew that how my testimony was perceived — that how I was perceived — would have an impact on every member of the jury and on the future mental and emotional well-being of every sexual assault victim who came before me. But I had to testify. It was the right thing to do, and I wanted to do the right thing, even if it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. When the first trial ended in a mistrial, I didn’t hesitate to step up again.
“I know now that I am one of the lucky ones. But still, when the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities. Now, almost 15 years later, I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.
“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.
“I’ve never married and I have no partner. I live alone. My dogs are my constant companions, and the members of my immediate family are my closest friends.
“My life revolves around my work as a therapeutic massage practitioner. Many of my clients need help reducing the effects of accumulated stress. But I’ve also trained in medical massage at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and often help cancer patients manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. I help many others too — people with Parkinson’s, arthritis, diabetes, and so on. Some of my clients are in their 90s. I help them cope with the ravages of old age, reducing stiffness, aches and pains.
“I like my work. I like knowing that I can help relieve pain and suffering in others. I know that it helps heal me too.
“I no longer play basketball but I try to stay fit. Mostly, I practice yoga and meditation, and when the weather is warm, I like to pedal my bike up long steep hills.
“It all feels like a step in the right direction: away from the dark and lonely place, toward the person I was before all this happened.
“Instead of looking back, I am looking forward to looking forward. I want to get to the place where the person I was meant to be gets a second chance.
“I know that I still have room to grow.
“I would like to acknowledge some of the people who have helped me get here today. “I will always be grateful for their counsel, friendship and support.
“First of all, my lawyers Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz. These two smart, courageous women have been there for me since the beginning. Without them, I would never have been able to navigate this legal and emotional minefield.
“I will also be eternally grateful to Kevin Steele, the District Attorney of Montgomery County, who had the guts to believe in me, in the truth, and for trusting the justice system could get things right — even if the process had to be repeated.
“I also want to thank Mr. Steele’s incredible team of professionals, including assistant district attorneys Kristen Feden and Stewart Ryan, detectives Richard Schaffer, Mike Shade, Harry Hall, Jim Reape, Erin Slight, Kiersten McDonald, victims services, and many others, for their passion for justice, their skill, and their hard work and perseverance despite the odds.
“Thank you to the jurors for their civic duty and great sacrifices.
“Thank you to all of the friends, old and new, who have stood by me. You know who you are, and each and every one of you has made a huge difference. Please know that.
“Last but not least, I want to thank my incredible family: my mother, Gianna, and my father, Andrew, my sister Diana, her husband Stuart, and their beautiful daughters — my nieces Andrea and Melanie. Thank you for proving over and over again that if there’s one thing in life you can always count on, it’s family.”
A judge sentenced comedian Bill Cosby to three to 10 years in state prison Tuesday, five months after a jury found him guilty of drugging and molesting a onetime friend in 2004.
Judge Steven O’Neil handed down the sentence after ruling earlier Tuesday that Cosby, 81, is a “sexually violent predator.” The designation means he will have to undergo lifetime counseling and report regularly to authorities.
Here are the latest updates:
Update 6:10 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: Bill Cosby has left the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Eagleville, Pennsylvania, according to local media reports, where he was taken directly after his sentencing Tuesday.
He has been moved to a state prison, the State Correctional Institution at Phoenix, CNN reported, where he’ll undergo testing and evaluations which will help authorities determine a permanent placement for him.
Every inmate goes through the process, which could take months.
Cosby was sentenced to as many as 10 years in prison on three counts of aggravated indecent assault against former friend and victim Andrea Constand.
Dozens of women had accused Cosby of drugging and raping them dating back to the 1970s.
Update 5:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: Bill Cosby is being moved to the state correctional facility after his sentencing Tuesday afternoon.
Several news outlets have posted his jail booking photo on social media.
Once he’s checked into prison, officials will issue him the following: prison attire, one blanket, two sheets, one towel, one washcloth, one hygiene kit (containing a toothbrush, tooth paste, a bar of soap, shampoo, deodorant, a pen and a comb), according to WCAU-TV.
Update 4 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said Tuesday that he was “pleased” with the “fair and significant sentence” handed down to Cosby on Tuesday.
“He used his acting skills and endearing TV personality to win over his victims and then keep them silent about what he did to them,” Steele said. “Finally, Bill Cosby has been unmasked.”
He praised Andrea Constand, who was drugged and molested by Cosby in 2004, for her steadfast resolve in seeing the actor prosecuted.
“We are all better off because she is in our lives,” Steele said. “She’s been through an ordeal these past 14 years and she’s been solid and steadfast. She’s been a rock. She’s done the right thing over, and over, and over again.”
Constand said in a victim-impact statement released Tuesday that life as she knew it “came to an abrupt halt” in January 2004, after she was drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby.
“After the assault, I wasn’t sure what had actually happened, but the pain spoke volumes,” she said. “The shame was overwhelming. Self-doubt and confusion kept me from turning to my family or friends as I normally did. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself.”
She said that she is still grappling with fallout from the incident.
Update 3:40 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: A spokeswoman for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office told The Associated Press that Cosby will be held at the county jail for a few days before he’s taken too SCI Phoenix, a new state prison outside of Philadelphia.
“(There) staff will assess his physical, medical and security needs,” the AP reported. “Cosby could end up in a long-term medical care unit.”
Update 3:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: Cosby’s publicist, Andrew Wyatt, called his client’s trial “the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States” after a judge sentenced him Tuesday to three to 10 years in state prison.
Wyatt said jurors never heard of Cosby’s history as a pillar in the community during his trial. The comedian did not take the stand during the proceedings.
“Mr. Cosby knows that God is watching over him. He knows that these are lies,” Wyatt said. “They persecuted Jesus and look what happened. (I’m) not saying Mr. Cosby is Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries.”
Wyatt said Cosby and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused by at least two women of sexual misconduct, are victims of a “sex war.”
“What is going on in Washington today with Judge Kavanaugh is part of that sex war that Judge O'Neil along with his wife are a part of,” Wyatt said.
Update 3 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: Cosby kept his gaze down after Tuesday’s sentencing hearing as he was escorted from the courtroom with his hands handcuffed in front of him.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents 32 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault, said the court sent an “important message” with Cosby’s sentence.
"This is a very important day,” she said. “Judgement day has come."
Update 2:20 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: O’Neil denied bail for Cosby after handing down his sentence Tuesday, according to WHYY.
Cosby’s attorneys had argued for bail, the news station reported.
“I’ve imposed sentencing at this stage,” O’Neil told Cosby’s attorneys, according to KYW-TV. “If you want to take it up with another court, you can.”
Update 2:10 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: O’Neil sentenced Cosby to three to 10 years imprisonment Tuesday.
Cosby will serve out his sentence in state prison, WHYY reported.
Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of five to 10 years in prison while the defense asked for Cosby to be sent home on house arrest.
Cosby was convicted in April of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. A jury determined that Cosby drugged and molested Andrea Constand, who then worked as the director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team, in 2004 at his suburban Philadelphia home.
O’Neil earlier deemed Cosby a “sexually violent predator.” The designation means he will have to register as a sex offender and undergo counsel for the rest of his life.
Cosby’s conviction was the first of a celebrity accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era.
Update 12:35 p.m. EDT Sept 25: O’Neil told people gathered in court Tuesday that he will announce Cosby’s sentence at 1:30 p.m., The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Update 12:15 p.m. EDT Sept. 25: Andrea Constand said in a victim-impact statement released Tuesday that life as she knew it “came to an abrupt halt” in January 2004, after she was drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby.
Constand was working as director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team after a professional stint with a team in Italy when the assault happened. She said the incident made her feel powerless and left her with years of unrelenting pain, stress and anxiety.
“When the sexual assaulted happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities,” she wrote. “Now, almost 15 years later, I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.”
Cosby was found guilty in April of drugging and molesting Constand in 2004. The guilty verdict came less than a year after another jury deadlocked on the same charges.
Cosby’s conviction marked the first of a celebrity in the #MeToo era. A judge is expected to hand down the comedian’s sentence Tuesday.
Update 11:45 a.m. EDT Sept. 25: A judge ruled Tuesday that Cosby is a “sexually violent predator,” meaning that he will have to undergo lifetime counseling and report regularly to authorities, according to The Associated Press.
The designation was made Tuesday by Judge Steven O’Neill on the second day of a two-day sentencing hearing for Cosby. Prosecutors are asking that the 81-year-old get five to 10 years in prison for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004. Cosby’s attorneys have asked for house arrest.
Update 8:55 a.m. EDT Sept. 25: Cosby arrived at the courthouse Tuesday morning to start the second day of his sentencing hearing on charges of aggravated indecent assault.
Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, told The Associated Press that the 81-year-old comedian doesn’t plan to make a statement in court. Cosby did not testify at either of his trials.
Prosecutors are asking for a sentence of five to 10 years in prison. His attorney wants the judge to send Cosby home on house arrest, saying he’s too old and frail for prison.
Update 5:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: Comedian Bill Cosby could see less than 4 years in jail after the judge Monday merged the three counts of aggravated indecent assault Cosby was convicted of into one for sentencing purposes because the counts were all connected to one event, according to news outlets. Cosby may not even see any jail time based on criminal guidelines in Pennsylvania and the fact that he has no previous record. He was facing as much as 30 years behind bars.
Also during proceedings Monday, victim Andrea Constand and members of her family delivered impact statements.
Constand said she just wants “justice” in the case, according to CNN.
"I have testified, I have given you my victim impact statement. You heard me, the jury heard me and Mr. Cosby heard me. All I'm asking for is justice as the court sees fit," Constand said in court.
Her mother, father and older sister also delivered impact statements.
The defense has not called any witnesses, yet, including Bill Cosby, but could tomorrow.
Original report: Cosby, 81, could spend the rest of his life behind bars. He is facing as many as 30 years in prison, although state guidelines for someone like Cosby, who does not have any prior convictions, call for between one and four years in prison.
The sentencing hearing will begin with testimony about Cosby's sex offender evaluation and whether he should be deemed a sexually violent predator. That would make him subject to lifetime counseling and community notification.
A jury found Cosby guilty in April 2018 of drugging and molesting onetime friend Andrea Constand in 2004. Constand was in court Monday for Cosby’s sentencing hearing.
Cosby was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, making his the first conviction of a celebrity accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era.
The guilty verdict came less than a year after another jury deadlocked on the same charges.
Jurors deliberated for more than 52 hours over six days in June 2017, but they couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on whether Cosby drugged and molested Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home, The Associated Press reported.
Cosby maintained that he and Constand shared a consensual sexual encounter. Cosby's attorney said Constand was a "con artist" who leveled false accusations against the comedian so that she could sue him.
Dozens of women have made high-profile accusations that Cosby had drugged and assaulted them, but Constand’s case was the only one to result in criminal charges against Cosby.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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