NORRISTOWN, Pa. – Declaring Bill Cosby doesn't deserve a free pass because of his advanced age, prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to sentence the comedian to five to 10 years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, while the defense argued that he is too old and helpless to do time.
"What does an 81-year-old man do in prison?" defense attorney Joseph Green asked on Day 1 of the sentencing hearing for Cosby, who is legally blind and dependent on others. "How does he fight off the people who are trying to extort him, or walk to the mess hall?"
Green suggested that Cosby instead receive something akin to house arrest.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said that he has no doubt Cosby would commit another such offense if given the opportunity, warning that the TV star seemingly gets a sexual thrill out of slipping women drugs and assaulting them.
"So to say that he's too old to do that — to say that he should get a pass, because it's taken this long to catch up to what he's done?" Steele said, his voice rising. "What they're asking for is a 'get out of jail free card.' "
And he said the sentence should send a message to others. "Despite bullying tactics, despite PR teams and other folks trying to change the optics, as one lawyer for the defense put it, the bottom line is that nobody's above the law. Nobody," the district attorney said.
Judge Steven O'Neill is expected to sentence Cosby on Tuesday. The TV star once known as America's Dad for his starring role in "The Cosby Show" could become the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be sent to prison.
Cosby was convicted in April of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and assaulting former Temple University women's basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004.
After testifying for several hours at two trials, the first of which ended in a hung jury, Constand spoke in court Monday for just two minutes.
"The jury heard me. Mr. Cosby heard me. Now all I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit," said Constand, who submitted a much longer victim-impact statement that wasn't read in court.
Steele quoted Constand in her statement as saying that Cosby took "my beautiful, healthy, young spirit and crushed it."
The three charges on which Cosby was convicted carry up to 10 years in prison each, but both sides agreed to merge them together for sentencing because they stemmed from the same encounter. State sentencing guidelines call for about one to four years behind bars on the combined charge.
The judge is also expected to decide whether to declare Cosby a "sexually violent predator" — which would make him subject to mandatory lifetime counseling and community notification of his whereabouts.
On Monday, Kristen Dudley, a psychologist for the state of Pennsylvania, testified that Cosby fits the criteria for a sexually violent predator, showing signs of a mental disorder that involves an uncontrollable urge to violate helpless women. A psychologist for Cosby's side is set to testify Tuesday.