The Slatest

State Argues Bill Cosby Is Still a Sexually Violent Predator in Sentencing Hearing

Bill Cosby, wearing a suit for his sentencing, looks downward
Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse on the first day of sentencing in his sexual assault trial on Monday in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Mark Makela/Getty Images

The first day of Bill Cosby’s sentencing hearing in Pennsylvania ended with no decision on his punishment for his April conviction for sexual assault.

Monday’s hearing revolved largely around the question of whether Cosby should be classified as a sexual predator, a designation that would place him on the sex offender registry list for life.

Cosby, at 81, is older than many registered sex offenders, and his defense attorney argued that as a result of his age and health, he is unlikely to ever commit another crime. His attorney also argued that the lack of new complaints in the past decade showed he would not offend again, according to the Associated Press.

But a state panel had argued that Cosby has shown a pattern of predatory behavior. Cosby declined to participate in the panel’s evaluation, but an expert witness for the state who reviewed trial transcripts and other reports argued at the sentencing hearing that Cosby had a mental disorder in which he lacked self-control and is likely to reoffend, according to CNN.

Earlier in the day, in hopes of saving their client from the designation, Cosby’s attorneys argued against the constitutionality of the state’s sexually violent predator classification and subsequent sex offender registration, protesting that it is a form of punishment without due process. The judge, Steven O’Neill, rejected this argument.

Prosecutors asked for five to 10 years in prison, arguing that Cosby was still capable of drugging women and assaulting them, even with his physical limitations. According to the AP, the prosecutors argued that his sentence should send the message that “nobody’s above the law.”

Cosby’s lawyers are asking for their client to be kept out of prison, as at his advanced age and with his physical limitations—he is legally blind and dependent on others for care—it would be an “excessive hardship.”

His conviction came from a retrial of a 2017 case over the accusations of Andrea Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball administrator who accused Cosby of drugging and molesting her in 2004. During his trial, five other women testified to being drugged and assaulted by Cosby, but the trial still ended after six days with a deadlocked jury. In the retrial, Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

The convictions carry up to 10 years for each count, but it seems unlikely he will be given the maximum sentence. State guidelines indicate that for a defendant with no prior convictions, one to four years would be standard.

But while Cosby’s lack of a criminal record and his advanced age work in his favor, he might be sentenced more harshly because of his lack of public remorse: He has not made any public apologies. About 60 women have accused him of sexual assault.

Constand appeared only briefly on the stand to say she wanted “justice as the court sees fit,” having already submitted a lengthier victim impact statement that was not read in court. Her parents and sister also testified, speaking to the emotional toll on Constand, saying she became “depressed” and “detached” after the assault.

None of Cosby’s other accusers took the stand, but at least two were in the courtroom, according to the AP.

The sentencing hearing will continue Tuesday, when a psychologist will testify for the defense. The judge is expected to make his decision afterward.