On April 26, 2018 famous actor and comedian, Bill Cosby, was found guilty of 3 counts of felony level aggravated assault: including one count of penetration with lack of consent, one count of penetration while unconscious, and one count of penetration after administering an intoxicant in his second criminal trial in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Cosby.
The conviction was based on serious sexual misconduct allegations from victim and former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. Cosby was a Temple University alum and Cosby was Constand’s mentor during the sexual assaults. After Constand bravely disclosed what Cosby did to her years ago, over 60 other women (such as Janice Dickinson and Chelan Lasha) came forward also accusing Cosby of sexually harassing, drugging, raping and sexually assaulting them.
Thereafter on September 25, 2018, after a two-day hearing in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Judge Steven O'Neill sentenced Cosby to 3 to 10 years in state prison in “total confinement.” During the hearing, Constand read a compelling victim impact statement, in which she stated that Cosby robbed her of her “health and vitality…open nature…and trust in myself and others.” Her words clearly moved Judge O’Neill. Cosby declined to make a statement on his own behalf.
Judge O’Neill denied Cosby’s request for bail pending appeal and ordered his immediate remand into custody. Cosby was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs by law enforcement; he was treated like any other prisoner.
Judge O’Neill was not swayed by Cosby’s fame or fortune in that he legally designated him a “sexually violent predator” which means that he is a registered sex offender for the rest of his life. He also told him his “very serious” crime was a “planned predation.” He further noted that Cosby did not seek to remediate his psychological issues and did not show a shred of remorse for his actions.
The sentence was deemed a significant victory for all of the victims, although Cosby could have received up to 30 years of confinement for his crimes. Many victims expressed satisfaction, elation, and tears of joy in that Cosby finally received justice for his actions.
This sentence makes powerful statements important to all. It solidifies the fact that many people around the world, that suffered from sexual harassment, abuse, and sexual misconduct do not have to accept or tolerate the violating behavior, even if it happened in the past. Also, victims do have an important voice and should not be blamed, embarrassed, or shamed for the criminal behavior of others. Victim’s lives and stories matter and will be heard! This sentencing also solidifies the important idea that prestige, fame, money and power do not and should not insulate and protect predators from their actions. Everyone must be accountable for their actions and will pay for what they have done. Finally, this sentence gives further traction to the #MeToo social movement that is sweeping across the country.
Nicole Sorokolit Croddick is Counsel at Davison, Eastman, Muñoz, Lederman & Paone, P.A., where she focuses her practice on employment and labor matters. She consults companies on human resources issues and has conducted internal investigations on ethical and legal violations. She also conducts anit-harassment and other compliance trainings. Contact Nicole Croddick.