Bill Cosby sentencing: Judge to announce punishment at 1:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill is set to announce the 81-year-old comedy icon's punishment for his 2004 sexual assault of Andrea Constand.
Bill Cosby will learn in the next 90 minutes if he will be ordered to spend what could be the final stage of his life in prison.
After hearing from a single defense witness Tuesday morning, Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill said he will announce at 1:30 p.m. the 81-year-old comedy icon's punishment for his 2004 sexual assault of Andrea Constand.
The judge announced his plans after ruling that Cosby should be designated as a "sexually violent predator" under state law. The "sexually violent" descriptor is largely a legal distinction that will make Cosby subject to mandatory lifetime counseling and community notification of his whereabouts for the rest of his life.
But the bigger, soon-to-be resolved question is if Cosby will be imprisoned and if so for how long.
Prosecutors have urged O'Neill to incarcerate Cosby in a state prison for 10 years – the maximum term under the law. The entertainer's lawyers, meanwhile, have pushed for house arrest, citing their ailing client's blindness, advanced age, and declining health.
Although Pennsylvania law gives judges wide latitude in fashioning appropriate punishment, state sentencing guidelines suggest a term of 22 months to three years in prison for Cosby.
As the hearing resumed Tuesday morning, Cosby appeared upbeat. He entered the Norristown courtroom with a smile and sat chatting quietly with his lawyers before the proceedings began.
The gallery behind him was packed with reporters from across the nation, Constand, her family, and about a half dozen of the more than 60 women who also have accused Cosby of assault.
Two rows of seats set aside for Cosby's family and friends remained empty. His wife, Camille, was not there. Only his two publicists and two of his longtime friends attended.
The day's sole witness – a defense psychologist, Timothy Foley – testified that after assessing Cosby, he believed the risk of the entertainer committing another assault is "extraordinarily low."
"He's 81 years old," Foley said. "After 70 years old, the risk of recidivism becomes virtually negligible."
Cosby refused earlier this year to participate in a court-ordered psychological evaluation to determine whether he was a sexually violent predator.
Still, Kristen F. Dudley, a member of the Pennsylvania Sex Offender Assessment Board, painted a far differed picture of the threat Cosby poses.
She told the court Monday that after examining police reports, transcripts of both of Cosby's trials, and statements from his many accusers, she deemed his behavior to be predatory.
Being labeled a sexually violent predator by the judge would make him subject to mandatory lifetime counseling and community notification of his whereabouts.
Tuesday's hearing takes place five months after a Montgomery County jury convicted Cosby on three counts of aggravated indecent assault – all tied to a 2004 attack on Constand at his Cheltenham mansion.
Cosby has vehemently denied assaulting her – or any other woman – and signaled that, despite his sentencing, his fight to clear his name is far from over.
The entertainer's legal team has vowed an immediate appeal.
Should the judge order Cosby taken into custody immediately, he is likely to be whisked from the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown to the county jail in Lower Providence Township.
From there, he would await transport to the State Correctional Institution Phoenix, in Collegeville, where he would be evaluated for a permanent placement within the state prison system. He is likely to be sent to a facility equipped to handle his medical needs.
The aging actor has repeatedly described himself as legally blind and in failing health, but state prison officials say that they are prepared for those conditions and that they successfully care for elderly inmates – some of whom are several years older than Cosby.