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Cosby to do time

UPDATE: 11:30 a.m.

His Hollywood career and good-guy image in ruins, an 81-year-old Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to three to 10 years behind bars for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, becoming the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be sent to prison.

The punishment all but completed the dizzying, late-in-life fall for the comedian, former TV star and breaker of racial barriers.

"It is time for justice. Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The time has come," Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said. He quoted from victim Andrea Constand's own statement to the court, in which she said Cosby took her "beautiful, young spirit and crushed it."

Cosby declined the opportunity to address the court before the sentence came down.

The punishment came at the end of a two-day hearing at which the judge declared Cosby a "sexually violent predator" — a modern-day scarlet letter that subjects him to monthly counselling for the rest of his life and requires that neighbours and schools be notified of his whereabouts.

The comic once known as America's Dad for his role on the top-rated "Cosby Show" in the 1980s was convicted in April of violating Constand, Temple University women's basketball administrator, at his suburban Philadelphia estate in 2004. It was the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

Cosby faced a sentence of anywhere from probation to 10 years in prison. His lawyers asked for house arrest, saying Cosby — who is legally blind — is too old and vulnerable to do time in prison. Prosecutors asked for five to 10 years behind bars, saying he could still pose a threat to women.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele rejected the notion that Cosby's age and infirmity entitle him to mercy. "He was good at hiding this for a long time. Good at suppressing this for a long time. So it's taken a long time to get there," Steele said.


UPDATE 11:19 a.m.

Bill Cosby, 81, is sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison for 2004 sexual assault.

More coming.


ORIGINAL 6:27 a.m.

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 defence psychologist who says Cosby is no longer a danger, given his age, and should not be branded a "sexually violent predator."

Defence 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 counselling 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.

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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