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September 24, 2018
Details on not yet complete sentencing of Bill Cosby
The sentencing of Bill Cosby following his conviction on three state charges in Pennsylvania got started today, but did not reach a conclusion. This lengthy New York Times article, headlined "Bill Cosby Sentencing: Psychologist Says Threat to Women Remains," reports on what transpired. Here are excerpts:
In the first of two days of hearings to determine Bill Cosby’s sentence for sexual assault, a psychologist for a state panel testified that Mr. Cosby deserved to be categorized as a “sexually violent predator” because he had a personality disorder that pushed him to have sex with nonconsenting partners.
The finding by the psychologist for Pennsylvania’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board can be a factor in sentencing and in the conditions imposed on a person found to be a predator, both in prison and afterward. But the final decision rests with Judge Steven T. O’Neill who is presiding over the hearing that could end Tuesday with one of the world’s best-known entertainers entering a prison cell.
Mr. Cosby’s lawyer, Joseph P. Green, had argued that Mr. Cosby’s age, 81, and legal blindness meant he was no risk, especially since there have been no new allegations of sexual abuse leveled against him since 2004. “How’s he going to meet these people?” said Mr. Green. “There is no reasonable prospect that an 81-year-old blind man is likely to reoffend.”
But the psychologist, Kristen F. Dudley, said she did not believe the disorder had dissipated with age. “It is possible that he has already met someone who could be a future victim,” she said. She said that, while Mr. Cosby had declined to meet with her, she was able to draw that conclusion by going through “boxes of documents,” including transcripts from Mr. Cosby’s two trials, one of which ended in April with his conviction on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Mr. Cosby was convicted of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee for whom he emerged as a mentor....
Mr. Cosby’s team said its expert witness could not testify until Tuesday, so Judge O’Neill agreed to wait until then to make a decision on the predator determination and Mr. Cosby’s sentence. If the judge agrees with the board’s psychological assessment, Mr. Cosby would be required to have routine counseling for the rest of his life, and even if not sentenced to prison, he would be required to report monthly to the police.
Mr. Cosby’s legal team had objected to the whole discussion, asserting that the legality of the state’s predator determination process is questionable because, among other things, it does not use the “beyond reasonable” doubt formula for findings in criminal cases. “The statute is unconstitutional,” said Mr. Green, but the judge found otherwise.
Mr. Cosby had faced a maximum 30-year prison term, 10 years for each of three counts of aggravated indecent assault he was convicted of. But Judge O’Neill chose on Monday to merge the counts, as allowed when they stem from the same event. In this case, they originated with an encounter in January 2004 when, Ms. Constand said, Mr. Cosby sexually assaulted her after giving her pills that made her drift in and out of consciousness.
In their remarks, prosecutors asked Judge O’Neill to sentence Mr. Cosby to a five- to 10-year term. “By deterring this type of conduct with a sentence that is appropriate will say that you can no longer get away with this,” the district attorney, Kevin R. Steele, told the court....
Mr. Green argued in favor of house arrest, saying Mr. Cosby is a danger to no one and that the court must be careful not to allow public opinion to affect its decision-making. “In this case we rely on you to make sure that that public advocacy doesn’t affect the application of the rule of law,” he said, adding later, “It’s your obligation to make sure that the sentencing decision is not affected by all that noise.”
Judge O’Neill will also have to consider state guidelines that recommend, but do not mandate, appropriate sentence ranges. Those guidelines, which account for any previous criminal record (Mr. Cosby has none), the seriousness of his offense, and mitigating and aggravating factors, suggest a range of about 10 months to four years. (Sentences in Pennsylvania are given as a range of a minimum and a maximum. Inmates with good behavior may be eligible for parole when they have reached the minimum.)...
Ms. Constand, who now works as a massage therapist in Canada, spoke only briefly as her victim’s impact statement had already been incorporated into the record. “The jury heard me,” she said, “Mr. Cosby heard me and now all I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit.”... Though dozens of other women have accused Mr. Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them, Judge O’Neill rejected a prosecution request to allow any of them to provide their accounts at the hearing.
Mr. Cosby’s defense team chose not to present additional witnesses to discuss, for example, Mr. Cosby’s character or any good works. But in his remarks, Mr. Green emphasized what he called Mr. Cosby’s youth of hardship and racism, his time in the United States Navy and discussed his educational achievements....
Mr. Cosby’s lawyers have filed several motions suggesting that they will file an appeal that challenges the judge’s rulings and even the judge’s personal integrity. A key question for Tuesday will be whether Mr. Cosby is allowed to remain out on bail while he pursues those appeals, a process that could take years.
His lawyers will argue that he is not a flight risk, and that he is not likely to commit another crime. But if Judge O’Neill were to permit him to stay at home, the judge would surely face bitter criticism from the many female accusers eager for closure this week. “I don’t think the judge will let him out on appeal; he has had his freedom for a long time,” said Barbara Ashcroft, a former prosecutor.
Prior related posts:
- You be the state judge: what sentence for Bill Cosby for conviction on three counts of aggravated indecent assault?
- "Why Bill Cosby may not spend any time in prison"
- "Are Elderly Criminals Punished Differently Than Younger Offenders?"
- "Will Bill Cosby’s Trip From America’s Dad to Sex Offender End in Prison?"
September 24, 2018 at 11:09 PM | Permalink