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April 26, 2018

You be the state judge: what sentence for Bill Cosby for conviction on three counts of aggravated indecent assault?

This brief CNN report details why there is a new celebrity sentencing watch now:

The jury in Bill Cosby's indecent assault trial found the comedian guilty Thursday of all three counts.

Cosby was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in a Philadelphia suburb in 2004. The 80-year-old former comedian faces up to 10 years in prison on each count, but would likely serve them concurrently....

The case against Cosby centered on testimony from Constand, a former employee with Temple University women's basketball team. She testified that Cosby, a powerful trustee at Temple, drugged her and sexually assaulted her when she visited his home to ask for career advice.

Cosby's defense team argued that their interaction was consensual. Constand is a con artist, they argued, who wanted a piece of Cosby's fortune....

Although dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, only Constand's allegations resulted in criminal charges.

The last line of this report highlights one of many reasons that the coming sentencing proceeding for Cosby may prove so interesting. It will be interesting to see whether and how the state will try to bring in evidence of other alleged assaults as "relevant conduct."  Because I do not know well Pennsylvania sentencing law and practice, I would be especially eager to hear from PA practitioners about how they expect a forthcoming sentencing to proceed.

April 26, 2018 at 02:11 PM | Permalink


I immediately thought of your role playing game when reading the news and see you were quick to the trigger. Part of my judgment would be parole rules for the state in question. I would probably hand down a sentence that provides at least a few years guaranteed, as much as you can do that. His age would factor in my judgment somewhat. I would want some sort of strict rules when he was out on parole for a few years as well, such as home confinement with limited exceptions.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 26, 2018 2:19:57 PM

Item (via a NY Daily News reporter): Cosby just called the DA an "asshole" during a bail discussion. DA argued Cosby is a flight risk because he has a private plane. Then Cosby fired back.

Probably not a good idea.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 26, 2018 2:24:34 PM

No sympathy whatever for serial rapist. 10 years to the day.

Posted by: Emma | Apr 26, 2018 2:46:46 PM

He will get fined, house arrest, and probation. No jail time.

Supposedly 2004 was the drug rape. Couldnt of been very bad, only been 14 yrs, I think these women are all gold diggers.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Apr 26, 2018 6:59:43 PM

fortunately, midwestguy, you were not on the jury.

Posted by: Hanna | Apr 26, 2018 9:58:37 PM

Hanna, I know I was a little crude on my post. But, but, 14 yrs later, then everyone else comes out if the wood work.

Thats the main thing with this fiasco.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Apr 26, 2018 11:04:05 PM

Potential issues impacting sentence:

1) Does Pennsylvania have a mandatory "treatment" program for sex offenders that must be completed before parole? My state does and the Department of Corrections tends to schedule inmates to participate in close proximity to the mandatory release date, which means that very few sex offenders become eligible for parole. As such, sex offenders serve most of the sentence and do not get early parole.

2) Does the offense qualify as a predatory sex offense? If it does, then there is the possibility of civil commitment after the sentence is done.

Both of these factors could lead a judge to a shorter sentence (3-5 years), knowing that the offender will serve most of the sentence and somebody else can make a decision that would effectively extend the sentence.

3) What percentage of time must be served before the defendant can receive parole and what are the guidelines for parole relief? I remember back in the days when there was federal parole that a lot of sentences were tailored to the parole guidelines with judges either imposing a sentence in which the guidelines matched the parole eligible date (preventing the Parole Commission from departing downward) or matched the mandatory release date (preventing the Parole Commission from departing upwards). In state courts, it is a lot easier for a judge to stack on a long sentence if the defendant only has to do 20 or 25% of the sentence, and a lot easier to give a shorter sentence if the defendant will have to serve 75% or 80% of the sentence.

Given the defendant's age (supporting a lower sentence), the number of victims (potentially supporting a consecutive sentence even though the charges only involve one victim), and the nature of the offense (supporting a higher sentence), my hunch says something in the 3-5 range.

Posted by: tmm | Apr 27, 2018 11:57:27 AM

MidWestGuy --

What gold have these women mined? Ms. Constand received a settlement many years ago, but how would that cause her to testify in a criminal trial now?

Posted by: DRF | Apr 27, 2018 12:49:40 PM

At sentencing the judge should let each of the 50 or so of Cosby's victims face nd address him--as the judge did in the Nasar case. After that a ten-year sentence is entirely appropriate regardless of his age.

Posted by: Peter from Vermont | Apr 29, 2018 2:31:02 PM

Given that the crime was 15 years ago, his age, first time offense as well as health issues, and that he is not a danger to society, will probably never commit another crime as well as his ability to be rehabilitated and along with the fact that he did commit this crime I would do the following:

CT I- 1 1/2 Years
CT II 1-1/2 Years
CT III 1 1/2 Years
ct 2 & 3 concurrent with ct 1 yr suspended and ct I consecutive. That's a total of 3 years with 1 suspended. Assuming 1/2 he would serve a year in prison. I am going to be a lawyer.

Posted by: Jacob Thompson | Jul 8, 2018 10:49:45 PM

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