Disgraced television icon Bill Cosby was sentenced to at least three years in prison, handcuffed and taken into custody on Tuesday for sexually assaulting a woman at his Philadelphia mansion 14 years ago.
The 81-year-old, once beloved by millions as “America's Dad,” is the first celebrity convicted and sentenced for a sex crime since the downfall of Harvey Weinstein ushered in the #MeToo movement and America's reckoning with sexual harassment.
Found guilty five months ago of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a former university basketball administrator, Cosby was impassive when Judge Steven O'Neill handed down the sentence in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
It makes him one of the famous Americans ever sentenced to prison in a country where fame and unlimited wealth spent on brilliant lawyers have tended to help celebrities avoid jail in the past.
The judge also branded him a “sexually violent predator,” a humiliating designation that will force him to register with police for the rest of his life and to submit to mandatory counseling.
His prison sentence means that Cosby can apply for parole after three years. His requests will be reviewed by a special committee and can be rejected up to a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars.
The defense declared their intention to appeal and asked for their client to be released on bail. But O'Neill rejected that request. Cosby was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom in his shirt and braces.
Prosecutors had demanded five to 10 years in prison, after the three counts of aggravated indecent assault were merged into one, together with a $25,000 fine and the full cost of the prosecution.