Bill Cosby was found guilty Thursday on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand, who accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his home in 2004. Constand is one of dozens of women who have leveled similar accusations against the comedian. Cosby, who is 80, faces a maximum of 30 years in state prison.
The verdict prompted an expletive-laden outburst from Cosby in the Montgomery County, Pa., court house on Thursday, as he called District Attorney Kevin Steele an “a—hole.”
The three counts each carry a sentence of up to 10 years in state prison. It still remains to be seen how much prison time Cosby will actually be sentenced to serve, and whether he could serve those sentences at the same time.
“That’s going to be a big point of contention here — stacking the sentences or asking them to be served concurrently,” said Jason Antoine, a criminal defense attorney who was previously an assistant district attorney in Pennsylvania’s Berks and Chester counties, which border Montgomery County.
Sentencing guidelines in Pennsylvania recommend 22 to 36 months as a sentence for aggravated indecent assault, but judges have the authority to issue shorter or longer sentences depending on the circumstances of each case.
Antoine thinks Cosby will be sentenced to 22 months — or a year “if the defense teams does a great job” — predicting that a longer, stacked sentence is unlikely because of Cosby’s age.
But Michael Skinner, a former assistant district attorney in Chester County, thinks the sentence will be more severe. “You can realistically expect that he’s probably going to get three years, if not more,” Skinner said. “Probably more because this is a high-profile case, and there are probably more aggravating circumstances than mitigating circumstances.”
Aggravating circumstances could include Cosby’s use of an intoxicant or his uncharged conduct, such as the dozens of similar accusations of sexual assault against him. Mitigating circumstances could include the fact that Cosby does not have a prior criminal record.
Skinner predicts that Cosby could be sentenced to three or four years per count, adding up to eight to 12 years in total if he is forced to serve them consecutively.
Cosby’s attorneys have already said they plan to appeal the verdict. After Cosby is sentenced, his attorneys could apply for bail while awaiting an appeal, which would allow Cosby to stay out of prison under certain conditions until the appeals process is complete. In a typical criminal case, Antoine said, that request would be denied, and the defendant would begin their prison sentence while the appeal moves forward.
But even a short prison sentence could bring some relief to the women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault in incidents spanning decades.
“I’m just so thrilled he’s likely going to spend some time in jail. I don’t even care if it’s only a short sentence,” Cosby accuser Sunni Welles told the New York Daily News on Thursday. “He just needs to go to jail.”
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