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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 21, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

National recap: Bill Cosby sentenced to three to 10 years in prison

Bill Cosby was sentenced three to 10 years in state prison Sept. 25. for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.

Prior to the sentencing, Pennsylvania judge Steven O’Neill ruled Cosby as a “sexually violent predator,” meaning he will have to register as a sexual offender and attend mandatory counseling for the rest of his life. This ruling did not influence the length of his prison sentence.

The sentencing was a follow-up to Cosby’s conviction of three counts of sexual assault against Andrea Constand in April. Dozens of other women also accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them while he was still a prominent figure in the media. However, Constand’s case was one of the only ones that fell within the statute of limitations.

After his sentencing, O’Neill told Cosby his sentence was a long time coming.

“This was a serious crime,” O’Neill said. “Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come. The time has come.”

According to a statement from the Office of the District Attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Cosby’s bail was denied by the judge.

Cosby left the courtroom in handcuffs after the sentencing and declined to comment when offered to by multiple news outlets. Constand left the courtroom smiling and embraced a woman on her way out.

The sentencing is largely seen as a victory for the #MeToo movement. However, some controversies have arisen concerning the brevity of Cosby’s sentence as well as the racial politics that have surrounded it.

Gloria Allred, an attorney who represented multiple of Cosby’s victims, applauded the verdict and said it was justice for the victims in a public statement following the sentencing.

“This is a very important day. Judgment day has come,” Allred said. “Mr. Cosby has shown no remorse, and there has been no justice for many of the accusers who were barred from a court by the arbitrary time limits imposed by the statute of limitations.”

Kathy McKee, one of Cosby’s alleged victims, told CNN the news of Cosby’s sentence stirred up some complicated emotions regarding her own experience.

“I’m happy that the judge sentenced Bill Cosby accordingly and I’m grateful to [Constand] for standing strong,” McKee said.

Lili Bernard, another one of Cosby’s accusers, told CNN she was glad Cosby was finally convicted and sentenced. However, she is also upset because the three-year minimum is a much less severe sentence that he deserves, she said.

“I do have mixed emotions,” Bernard said. “On the one hand, I feel absolutely elated that justice was served. On the other hand, I also feel disappointed because clearly the three-year minimum sentence does not adequately reflect the havoc this man, this rapist, has inflicted on so many women including myself.”

Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s publicist, read a statement after the trial that attributed Cosby’s sentencing to racism and accused the victims of being white women who wanted to profit from accusing black men of being sexual predators.

“I believe and think it is important to point out that this has been the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States,” Wyatt said. “We know what this country has done to black men for centuries.”

Meredith Burke can be reached at mburke@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @meredithsburke