Prosecutors asked a Montgomery County judge on Monday to send Bill Cosby to prison for 10 years, arguing that he has shown no remorse for using his celebrity status to befriend and then sexually assault Andrea Constand.
Cosby's lawyers, however, asked the judge to show mercy on the 81-year-old entertainer, arguing that he is no danger to the public and should be sentenced only to house arrest.
Judge Steven T. O'Neill is expected to make his decision Tuesday, determining if Cosby will spend perhaps the rest of his life behind bars or return to the Cheltenham home where he has remained under house arrest since a jury convicted him in April of drugging and assaulting Constand one night in 2004.
Although he was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in connection with the incident, the lawyers agreed to merge them into one, making District Attorney Kevin R. Steele's sentencing request the maximum penalty.
"This is about a person who put himself in a situation of being a mentor, but we know that he had other intentions right from the beginning," Steele said of Cosby, who offered to help Constand when she was a Temple University employee.
The arguments capped off the first day of what is expected to be a two-day proceeding in Norristown. O'Neill also heard from Constand and her family, and earlier heard a psychologist assert that Cosby should be designated a "sexually violent predator" in part because he has a personality disorder that makes him inclined to engage in sex with nonconsenting women.
Pennsylvania law gives great latitude to judges in determining a sentence, but state guidelines suggest a term of 22 months to three years in prison for Cosby.
Steele told the judge that the defense request to spare Cosby from prison is essentially a "get-out-of -jail-free card," and asserted that Cosby even hired a band to play for him while on house arrest. He also asked that Cosby pay a $25,000 fine as well as reimburse the court and prosecution for the cost of both trials.
"We ask this because of who he is behind the mask, behind the act that he perpetuated for all the years that he did, behind [the persona] he used to victimize," Steele said.
About a half-dozen of Cosby's accusers showed up for the hearing, greeting each other with hugs. Constand sat in the courtroom with her sister and parents. Behind her sat three women who testified at Cosby's trial this year — Chelan Lasha, Lise-Lotte Lublin, and Janice Dickinson.
Cosby, wearing a dark suit, sat quietly between his lawyers and leaned forward in his seat, appearing to pay close attention to the proceedings. His wife, Camille, did not attend, and his lawyers chose to call no character witnesses.
Joseph Green, one of Cosby's lawyers, urged O'Neill to avoid influence from the court of public opinion. He spoke of Cosby's childhood in North Philadelphia and a legendary career in which he sought to unite people of different races. Now, he said, Cosby is simply a frail old man.
"Mr. Cosby is not dangerous," Green said. "Eighty-one-year-old blind men who are not self-sufficient are not dangerous."
Green acknowledged Cosby's April courtroom outburst, when, minutes after the jury found him guilty, he called Steele an "asshole."
"Mr. Cosby's frustration got the better of him and he used a name toward Mr. Steele that he shouldn't have," Green said.
At one point — as Steele was noting that Cosby isn't the beloved father figure he portrayed on television — the entertainer appeared to react again, leaning toward his lawyer, whispering and gesturing. Green appeared to shoo his client away.
During her brief statement, Constand reminded the judge of her testimony during both trials.
"The jury heard me. Mr. Cosby heard me," she said. "And now all I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit."
In a letter she wrote to O'Neill — and which Steele described — Constand recounted nightmares in which Cosby assaulted other women in front of her and made her feel as if it was her fault. "He took my beautiful, healthy, young spirit and crushed it," she said, accusing him of "psychological, emotional, and financial bullying."
Her parents and sister also spoke about how the assault had impacted Constand, changing her from a confident and outgoing young athlete to a reclusive and nervous victim.
"The victims cannot be un-raped," said her mother, Gianna. "All we can do is hold the perpetrator accountable."
Earlier, a psychologist who evaluated Cosby told the judge that she classified his behavior as predatory, and said he was likely to re-offend.
Psychologist Kristen F. Dudley, a member of the Pennsylvania Sex Offender Assessment Board, said Cosby declined to let her interview him, so she instead reviewed "boxes of documents," including police reports in the case and the transcripts of both trials.
She noted that Cosby "repeatedly engaged in grooming and sexual offending behavior with young adult females," and said individuals with a sexual disorder like his "are inclined, urged, to act upon this."
The defense lawyer, Green, questioned whether Cosby was likely to commit more crimes. "There's no reasonable prospect than an 81-year-old blind man is likely to re-offend," he said.
Dudley disagreed. "Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it won't happen," she said.
O'Neill said he would make that ruling Tuesday, after hearing from an expert offered by defense lawyers. If he rules that Cosby is a sexually violent predator, Cosby would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and attend monthly counseling.