US TELEVISION ICON Bill Cosby will return to a Pennsylvania court today to face sentencing for sexual assault, five months after his conviction at the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.
The frail 81-year-old faces a maximum potential sentence of 30 years for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia mansion in January 2004.
He will be the first celebrity sentenced for a sex crime since the 2017 downfall of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein signaled the beginning of America’s public reckoning with sexual harassment.
“Obviously, the allegations are serious, and, except for his age and poor health, would normally warrant some jail time,” said Samuel Stretton, a veteran defence lawyer not connected to the case.
Cosby is legally blind and uses a cane, something his lawyers are certain to point out along with his achievements and philanthropy. Prosecutors hoped to call some of his other accusers to paint Cosby as a sexual predator deserving of prison.
Two of the other women accusing Cosby of sexual assault said Sunday they hope he will be sent to prison.
Lise-Lotte Lublin and Chelan Lasha, appearing at a Philadelphia news conference, also said they hoped they would be allowed to read victim impact statements before Cosby is sentenced.
While some will be disappointed not to voice their accusations in court, experts say it could remove a lengthy part of the trial and speed up the hearing.
Cosby could then be sentenced late on Monday, rather than on Tuesday.
Allegations against the comedian date back to the 1960s. That was the decade Cosby began his career, debuting on NBC’s The Tonight Show in 1963 as a stand-up comic.
He then rose to fame starring on numerous television shows before establishing himself as a household name with eight seasons of The Cosby Show, beginning in 1984.