Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison on Tuesday for drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University women’s basketball player and official, Andrea Constand.
Cosby, 81, faced a maximum of 10 years in prison after prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to merge the three counts of his conviction into one for sentencing purposes.
According to news reports, his sentence is the first of a major celebrity in the #Me Too era which has seen numerous high-profile men in the entertainment, political, business, sports, medical and academic arenas charged and punished for sexually assaulting and exploiting women.
The entertainment industry giant was at one time referred to as “America’s Dad,” on the heels of the popularity his groundbreaking situation comedy, The Cosby Show, which ran on NBC from 1984-1992.
However, as the accusations of Cosby drugging and sexually abusing women began to mount and the #MeToo movement gained steam, the country’s perception of the cultural icon dramatically changed. Eventually, more than 60 women accused him of sexual assault or harassment, stretching back to the 1960s.
Given his advanced age and status as a first-time offender, Cosby’s lawyers argued the sentence was too steep and had requested probation or house arrest. They vowed to appeal his case.
Kim Trent, a Detroit writer and feminist who led a high-profile effort to raise money to test abandoned rape kits in Detroit and was featured in a HBO documentary for her efforts, said she had mixed feelings about the sentence.
“We are talking about someone who represented the pinnacle of black excellence for much of my youth,” she said. “And from that perspective, it’s hard to see this happen.”
“However, I’m sure Andrea Constant also feels like she got a life sentence when she was assaulted,” Trent said. “I think a lot of times we tend to discount the experiences and the lifelong consequences that sexual assault survivors experience. And I think it’s appropriate to consider that in addition to whatever sympathy we might feel for Dr. Cosby.”