Bill Cosby arrived at the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, courthouse Tuesday in a black SUV, surrounded by his publicists and attorneys.
He left in a prison van, escorted by sheriff’s deputies.
Judge Steven T. O’Neill sentenced the fallen comic to as many as 10 years in state prison, following his sexual assault conviction earlier this year stemming from a 2004 incident at Cosby’s suburban Philadelphia home involving a former Temple University employee.
Cosby, 81, whose initial trial on the charges ended in a hung jury last year, could be released after serving a minimum of three years. Prosecutors had sought a five- to 10-year sentence.
His lawyers immediately filed a notice of appeal.
O’Neill rejected defense attorney Joe Green’s request for his client to remain free on bail pending appeal, telling Cosby, “You have no right to it.”
“This is a serious crime,” said the judge, who earlier had designated Cosby a sexual violent predator which means he’ll have to undergo a lifetime of monthly counseling and report quarterly to authorities.
Because of the designation, Cosby’s name also will appear on a sex-offender registry sent to neighbors, schools and victims.
Additionally, the designation can also be used against Cosby in several pending defamation lawsuits. He reportedly has already paid the victim in the case, Andrea Constand, $3.4 million in a civil settlement.
Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt told reporters the sentence continues a “lynching of a legacy.”
“This has been the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States,” Wyatt said. “Dr. Cosby has been one of the greatest civil rights leaders in the United States for over the last 50 years. He’s also been one of the greatest educators of men and boys over the past 50 years. This wasn’t pointed out in court to the jurors or allowed in because of the racist and sexist mass media was attacking and denouncing Dr. Cosby whenever his lawyers even hinted that racism and sexism was present.
“All three psychologist testified against Dr. Cosby were White women who make money off of accusing Black men of being a sexual predator and it’s no accident that prosecutor Steele worked so close with anti-Black and anti-male activists groups who tried to extort $100 million from Dr. Cosby in 2014,” he said.
Wyatt and Cosby’s wife, Camille, also cited an NNPA Newswire report earlier this month that tapes used to help convict Cosby were doctored.
After reading the NNPA story, Cosby hired a forensic firm in northern Virginia to review recordings that Constand’s mother, Gianna, made surreptitiously during phone calls with Cosby. The recordings were used as evidence in both of Cosby’s trials.
However, Wyatt and Camille Cosby said the firm found that they were indeed doctored.
In a statement from Camille Cosby read by publicist Ebonee Benson after the sentence was handed down, Cosby’s wife said they also presented the findings to Montgomery County detectives.
“They found that they were unable to authenticate the tapes,” Camille Cosby said in her statement.
Cosby said her husband’s legal team would immediately file for relief on the basis that Steele used falsified evidence to win the conviction.
“The right to a fair trial is of utmost important,” she said. “The prosecutor has the responsibility to protect the innocent … Gianna Constand surreptitiously and illegally recorded a conversation with my husband which the former District Attorney Bruce Castor said was illegal. Steele used illegal recordings in both trials.”
Wyatt called it a persecution.
“I’m not saying Mr. Cosby is Jesus, but we know what this country has done to Black men for centuries,” he said.
Cosby was found guilty in April of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for the drugging and sexual assault of Constand, a former Temple University employee, at his in Montgomery County home more than 14 years ago.
He was the first celebrity to be convicted for sexual abuse since the start of the #MeToo movement, the national movement that has resulted in numerous celebrities and powerful individuals such as former NBC “Today” host Matt Lauer, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and many others losing their careers.
President Donald Trump has also been accused of sexual misconduct and his Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, is set to face at least one woman accusing him of sexual assault when he appears before a Senate committee Thursday.
Cosby, who declined to address the court during sentencing and did not testify during either of his trials, has vowed to continue fighting his conviction.
His attorneys as well as numerous legal experts have said there are numerous grounds for a higher court to consider tossing out the verdicts against him.
Among O’Neill’s rulings that Cosby’s team believe are questionable is the contentious relationship the judge has had with former District Attorney Bruce Castor, who previously declined to file charges against Cosby because he said Constand wasn’t credible and there wasn’t evidence to support a prosecution.
Castor also made an agreement with Cosby in which the actor would waive his Fifth Amendment right and sit for a civil deposition. The then-district attorney agreed that whatever Cosby said in the deposition would be sealed and could never be used to prosecute him.
Camille Cosby recently filed a request for a full investigation into O’Neill with the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board at the state’s capitol in Harrisburg.
“In light of Judge O’Neill’s continuing unethical conduct, I have retained a former prosecutor based in Harrisburg, Brian W. Perry, to facilitate my efforts to uncover the truth regarding the longstanding and ongoing feud between Castor and the judge,” Camille Cosby said in a statement last week.
“Mr. Perry will provide the Judicial Conduct Board with recent written communications from Mr. Castor that contradict the judge’s claim that there is no grudge,” Camille Cosby said.
“For example, an email from Mr. Castor references Judge O’Neill as ‘A judge with an enormous potential bias [who] did not disclose that possible bias to the lawyers to give them the option to seek a new judge,’” she said, specifically referencing an email Castor sent to the Washington Informer on March 27.
Camille Cosby’s statement, in part:
“One week prior to my request for investigation, Bill Cosby filed a motion demanding that the judge provide a full accounting of his longstanding feud with and bias against Bruce Castor, the former DA of Montgomery County.
“The motion explained that Mr. Cosby retained a former FBI agent to investigate the relationship of Messrs. Castor and O’Neill after recently being tipped off about their feud in an unsourced tabloid [Radar Online] article. The former agent discovered that, in 1999, when Messrs. O’Neill and Castor were running against each other to become DA, Mr. Castor ordered a female prosecutor whom Mr. O’Neill had dated to visibly support Mr. Castor during a key debate.”
After Cosby was led away in handcuffs Tuesday, Wyatt said his boss was holding up well.
“Bill Cosby is fine,” he said. “They prosecuted Jesus, and look what happened to him. [Cosby] believes in God, and he will be OK.”