NORRISTOWN, Pa. — A judge Tuesday ruled that convicted comedian Bill Cosby is a “sexually violent predator,” a designation that includes lifelong notification and counseling requirements, during the second day of his sentencing hearing.
Judge Steven O’Neill made his decision about “predator” status in advance of sentencing Cosby, who was convicted in April of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2004.
O’Neill still must decide if and for how long Cosby, 81, will go to prison for his 2004 sexual assault of Andrea Constand.
The judge heard final prosecution and defense remarks during the morning session and is expected to announce Cosby’s sentence, including whether he will go to prison, at 1:30 p.m. EDT.
“This should be a state-prison sentence and this should be a sentence that happens today,” district attorney Kevin Steele told the judge.
Before the sentencing hearing, a Pennsylvania state board recommended that Cosby be designated a “sexually violent predator,” a classification that mandates registration as a sex offender, community notification of his whereabouts and lifelong counseling.
USA TODAY is in the courtroom and providing live updates throughout the hearing:
Deemed a sexually violent predator. Cosby finally speaks in court
After Foley made his “predator” ruling, Cosby politely told the judge that he waived allocution, a defendant’s formal statement to the court and listened to the conditions of his registration as a sex offender, curtly responding to confirm whether he understood.
Cosby appeared testy and annoyed on a few occasions, asking for questions to be repeated when he didn’t understand or couldn’t hear. He also asked, “If I went from city to city, even if it’s just overnight, I have to get in touch with the state police?”
In a letter, Constand says her life came to an “abrupt halt” after assault
Prosecutors released Constand’s five-page letter to the judge in which she described the impact of Cosby’s assault.
Before the assault, “I knew who I was and I liked who I was … Nothing could have prepared me for an evening of January 2004, when life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt,” Constand wrote, referring to the time of the attack.
She summed up the effect: “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.”
Cosby arrives for day of reckoning; fans make case for house arrest
Cosby arrived at the Montgomery County Courthouse in suburban Philadelphia at about 8:30 a.m. ET on a rainy morning for the second day of his sentencing hearing. He smiled faintly and nodded as he walked by some supporters, including a man who shouted, “Keep your head up, Bill!”
A protester yelled, “Justice for women!” while “The Final Countdown” played on a speaker blowing bubbles.
Outside the courthouse, Cosby supporter and Norristown resident Mariann Tokarchik, advocated for house arrest. “I see they’re trying to give him prison time,” she told USA TODAY. “It’s not fair to Bill, but what can you do? That’s the justice system.”
Another Cosby backer, Tony Abery, 61, of Norristown, said: “I think they should let him go and put him on house arrest, or just set him free and let him go. They’re going over what happened in 2004. Here it is, 2018. … Why can’t they just let the past go and let the man be at peace? The man’s old.”
Bill Cosby could be sent to prison next week for drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004, in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era. (Sept. 20)
Day 1 recap
During the first day of the sentencing hearing Monday, prosecutors and defense attorneys argued whether Cosby should be sent to prison and for how long. Prosecutors asked that Cosby, 81, be sentenced to five to 10 years, while the defense argued the disgraced entertainer, who is said to be legally blind, is too old and frail to be sent to prison. Constand, whom Cosby is convicted of sexually assaulting, and others testified.
The sentencing hearing is the latest marker in a nearly four-year effort to convict and jail Cosby, who was found guilty in April on three counts of aggravated felony sexual assault for drugging and molesting Constand, a former friend, at his home outside Philadelphia in January 2004.
Cosby did not address the court Monday, sitting stone-faced through much of the proceeding. Constand, who testified briefly Monday, watched the proceedings with others who say they were assaulted by Cosby, including model Janice Dickinson (one of five other accusers to testify at his retrial) and Lili Bernard.
The next step: Appeals process
Cosby’s legal team, led by Philadelphia attorney Joseph Green, can begin the appeals process as soon as O’Neill hands down his sentence.
Contributing: Maria Puente and Bryan Alexander USA TODAY; the Associated Press
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