Bill Cosby, who was once one of America’s favorite dads and a model of fatherhood, has been sentenced to prison for 3 to 10 years for sexual assault. Cosby is most noted for his role on The Cosby Show, which aired from 1984-1992. The actor was sentenced to state prison on Tuesday, September 25th, at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania. In addition, Cosby received a fine of $25,000 which is to be paid to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth.
He will be serving his time at Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institute at Phoenix. The prison is in Collegeville and is about 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia- not far from the Montgomery County courthouse where the comedian was convicted in April on three counts of sexual assault: penetration with lack of consent, penetration while unconscious, and penetration after administering an intoxicant. The charges were brought into light by Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee to whom he had been a mentor.
“It is time for justice,” Judge Steven T. O’Neill said as he announced the term. “Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come. The time has come.” Acknowledging the impact that the case has had on Mr. Cosby’s legacy, Judge O’Neill added: “Fallen angels suffer most.”
The case has been marked the first high-profile conviction since the #MeToo movement begun, putting a much needed worldwide spotlight on stories of abuse, mostly told by women- which has been especially impactful in Hollywood. The movement, started by Tarana Burke and said to be popularized by Alyssa Milano, sparked a rise in the midst of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal back in October of 2017. This movement has also led to the rise of the Time’s Up Movement, which began in January. Burke was named one of Time magazine’s “Silence Breakers” in their 2017 “Person of the Year” issue. She was featured on the cover.
The trial has been a small and symbolic victory for the many others who said they were victimized by Cosby over the years. He has been accused of sexual assault by 62 women but only Constand’s story, which is 14 years old, could be taken to court because of statute of limitations. Constand testified along with other known victims Janice Dickinson, Chelan Lasha, Heidi Thomas, Lise-Lotte Lublin, and Janice Baker-Kinney. When they testified against Cosby, they faced an onslaught of questions from the defense team, who repeatedly asked that they explain why they didn’t make their accusations public earlier, insinuating that the witnesses were attention-hungry.
Even though it is common for victims of sexual assault and abuse to be fearful of coming forward for many reasons (safety of their life, feeling ashamed that they let something so horrible happen to them, not being strong enough, fearful of what others might think, and worst of all thinking it was their fault). None of the women backed down, though.
Constand shared that after her assault, “life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt. 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.” And when Thomas was pressed about her reason for coming forward with allegations against Cosby, she replied blatantly, “I want to see a serial rapist convicted.”
Sonia Ossorio, the president of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women, released a statement praising the courageous survivors who spoke out and the diligent prosecutors. “They exposed Bill Cosby and they helped pave the way for the #MeToo movement that is transforming our world.”
Cosby's sentencing should serve as a reminder to abusers everywhere that no one operates with impunity. We remain in solidarity with all of the brave women who came forward and hold them in our hearts today. https://t.co/rQkWBIJskQ
— TIME'S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) September 25, 2018
Prosecutor Kristen Feden told the jury in her closing argument, “Cosby is nothing like the image that he played on TV. In fact, he utilized that image and cloaked it around himself so that he could gain the trust, gain the confidences of these aspiring, unsuspecting women.”
“We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator,” Constand said in her victim impact statement, “but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.”
Cosby will now be designated as a sexually violent predator and will have to register as a lifelong sex offender and undergo treatment in counseling when he is to be released from prison. He is being held in a single 8x13x10 feet cell in a unit adjacent to the infirmary, a press release from the prison said.
The survivors are standing tall.
The final stage of healing is using what happens to you to help other people, that is healing in itself.
— Andrea Constand (@ConstandAndrea) May 29, 2018