Bill Cosby, once known as "America's Dad," is sentenced to three to 10 years in prison

The actor and comedian has also been ruled a "sexually violent predator" by Judge Steven O'Neill in Pennsylvania

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published September 25, 2018 2:24PM (EDT)

Bill Cosby walks after his verdict was announced at the Montgomery County Courthouse. (Getty/Mark Makela)
Bill Cosby walks after his verdict was announced at the Montgomery County Courthouse. (Getty/Mark Makela)

Bill Cosby, the award-winning actor and comedian once known as "America's Dad," has been ruled a "sexually violent predator" and sentenced to three to 10 years in a Pennsylvania prison after being convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.

"No one is above the law," Judge Steven O'Neill told Cosby. "And no one should be treated differently or disproportionally."

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said that the actor and comedian had "used his acting skills and an endearing TV personality to win over his victims and then keep them silent."

"Finally, Bill Cosby has been unmasked, and we saw the real man as he is headed off to prison," he added.

Cosby's conviction marks the first of a prominent male celebrity in the #MeToo era. After being denied bail by Judge Steven O'Neill due to the severity of the crime, he was escorted away in handcuffs.

"I know now that I am one of the lucky ones. But still, when the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities," Constand said in her victim impact statement. "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."

Cosby's team bashed the court proceedings as "the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States," according to CNN. Publicist Andrew Wyatt also alleged that some individuals who had testified against Cosby were "white women who make money off of accusing black men of being sexual predators.”

"They persecuted Jesus and look what happened," Wyatt added. "Not saying Mr. Cosby's Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries.

In her victim impact statement, Constand further wrote:

Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.
I've never married and I have no partner. I live alone. My dogs are my constant companions, and the members of my immediate family are my closest friends.
My life revolves around my work as a therapeutic massage practitioner. Many of my clients need help reducing the effects of accumulated stress. But I've also trained in medical massage at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and often help cancer patients manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. I help many others too — people with Parkinson's, arthritis, diabetes, and so on. Some of my clients are in their 90s. I help them cope with the ravages of old age, reducing stiffness, aches and pains.
I like my work. I like knowing that I can help relieve pain and suffering in others. I know that it helps heal me, too. I no longer play basketball but I try to stay fit. Mostly, I practice yoga and meditation, and when the weather is warm, I like to pedal my bike up long steep hills.
It all feels like a step in the right direction: away from a very dark and lonely place, toward the person I was before all this happened.
Instead of looking back, I am looking forward. I want to get to the place where the person I was meant to be gets a second chance.
I know that I still have room to grow.

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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