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‘America’s Dad’ beloved no more

Philadelphia, Wednesday

Disgraced US television icon Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison by a judge on Tuesday and branded a “sexually violent predator” for assaulting a woman at his Philadelphia mansion 14 years ago.

The 81-year-old, once beloved as “America’s Dad,” is the first celebrity convicted and sentenced for a sex crime since the downfall of Harvey Weinstein ushered in the #MeToo movement and America’s reckoning with sexual harassment.

Convicted five months ago of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a former university basketball administrator, he showed no reaction when Judge Steven O’Neill handed down the sentence in a court in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

The actor declined to make a statement when offered the opportunity. At a retrial in April, Cosby was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004.

Cosby’s request for bail pending appeal was denied. He was also fined $25,000 (£19,000) plus the prosecution costs. After the sentencing, he was led away in handcuffs from the courtroom. He was then driven to Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Cosby’s attorney had asked for his sentence to be restricted to house arrest, saying he was too frail for prison.

The actor had been under house arrest since April. The comedian became a household name in 1980s America when he starred in the Cosby Show TV sitcom, playing the father in a well-to-do African-American family living in Brooklyn, New York.

Such was his popularity that he was dubbed “America’s Dad”.

“This was a serious crime,” Judge Steven O’Neill was quoted as saying by CNN after pronouncing the sentence in the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown.

“Mr Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come, the time has come.”

In June 2017, the former Temple University basketball administrator described how Cosby, whom she had viewed as a “mentor”, had given her pills that left her “frozen” and unable to stop his assault.

In her statement, as carried by the National Post, she said: “To truly understand the impact that the sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened.”

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele paid tribute to Constand, saying: “We are all better off because she is in our lives.  —AFP & BBC

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