Disgraced comedian and actor Bill Cosby may spend the rest of his life behind bars after being found guilty of three counts of sexual assault.
The 80-year-old — best known for his starring role in the 80s family sitcom The Cosby Show — was found guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia home in 2004.
The jury in the retrial found him guilty of all three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
He faces up to 10 years in prison for each count but will likely serve the time concurrently.
“Because of his age, his medical issues, I am not going to simply lock him up because of this,” Judge Steven O’Neill said.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 26, 2018
Judge O’Neill said Cosby would remain free on $US1 million bail but would have to hand in his passport and stay in Montgomery County until the sentencing, which had not yet been pencilled in.
Prosecutors protested against Cosby’s temporary freedom, pointing to the fact he had a private jet and as such was a flight risk.
Cosby had been silent throughout the proceedings but he couldn’t control himself when the prosecutors attempted to get his bail revoked.
The man once known as “America’s dad” stood up and yelled, “He doesn’t have a plane, you asshole.”
Cosby first celebrity conviction of #MeToo movement
It was the first celebrity trial since the #MeToo movement began last year, and Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steel said he used his wealth and a “network of supporters” to evade being brought to justice.
While Harvey Weinstein has been the face of the movement, he has not as yet had to answer to criminal charges.
“What was revealed through this investigation was a man who had spent decades preying on women that he drugged and sexually assaulted, and a man who evaded this moment right here far too long,” Mr Steele told reporters.
“He used his celebrity, he used his wealth, he used his network of supporters to help him conceal his crimes.”
Victoria Valentino — who is one of at least 50 other women to come forward as victims of Cosby — hailed the verdict as a win for all sexual assault survivors.
“I think [the verdict] will say to all women – not just Cosby survivors, but other victims – that the criminal justice system is working,” she said.
“I think that we’ll understand that we have the system backing us up at last.”
I think that we’ll understand that we have the system backing us up at last.
The case originally went to trial last year, before the social movement began, but the jury could not agree on a verdict.
This time, the prosecution called on five other women to testify. One of those, Chelan Lasha, was 17 when she was invited to Cosby’s hotel room for a modelling shoot and was drugged with a small blue pill and left defenceless against his advances.
Earlier the court had already heard Ms Constand was given ‘herbal’ pills at Cosby’s home the night he attacked her.
“He guided me there, and he laid me in the bed. I couldn’t move any more after that,” Ms Lasha said.
“He laid next to me, and he kept touching my breast and humping my leg. I remember something warm hitting my leg.
“You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?” she asked through tears.
Cosby’s attorney, Tom Mesereau, said he plans to appeal “very strongly”.
“We are very disappointed by the verdict. We don’t think Mr. Cosby’s guilty of anything and the fight is not over.”