How much jail time for Cosby?

Each of the three counts Bill Cosby was found guilty of carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Each of the three counts Bill Cosby was found guilty of carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • How much jail time will Bill Cosby get now that he has been found guilty on Thursday of sexual assault in his retrial?

That issue has cropped up in media reports, with USA Today citing retired superior court judge Michael Donio as saying that the crime for drugging and molesting Ms Andrea Constand at Cosby's Philadelphia home in 2004 does not come with a minimum sentence.

But each of the three counts he was found guilty of carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Mr Donio said an average person with no prior criminal record would likely get five years.

Cosby's lawyers, who have pledged to appeal, will likely argue that a prison cannot take care of the 80-year-old who has said he is blind.

He could get house arrest or probation, other legal experts said.

  • 14 years to get the comedian convicted

  • 2004: Ms Andrea Constand alleges Bill Cosby assaulted her at his home

    2005: Prosecutors decide not to press charges, citing "insufficient evidence" 

    2005: She sues the entertainer, with a settlement later reached 

    2015: Criminal probe reopens 

    2017: Cosby's trial ends in hung jury 

    2018: Jury finds him guilty on three counts in retrial

The three charges, all stemming from the same crime, should lead to one sentence, they added. No date has been set for the sentencing yet.

Cosby, who is out on a US$1 million (S$1.3 million) bail, was convicted in the first celebrity courtroom battle of the #MeToo era - a combative retrial that capped his fall from grace and offered vindication to dozens of women who accused him of abuses.

His first trial ended in June last year with a hung jury.

On Thursday, when a new jury announced its decision after deliberating for more than 14 hours over two days, Cosby sat back in his chair and stared down.

Several women, who have accused him of abuse, briefly cheered.

Ms Constand, who had been quiet throughout, stood up and was hugged by supporters.

But after the jury was led out, Cosby erupted in an expletive-laden tirade when Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele asked that his US$1 million bail be revoked, suggesting he could flee.

The judge said Cosby could be released on bail, but he would have to remain in his nearby home.

But the guilty verdict still allowed Mr Steele to declare that "justice has been done" after Cosby "spent decades preying on women".

A case with no physical evidence, the trial essentially boiled down to he-said, she-said, hinging on how credible the jury found Ms Constand, 45, a former basketball player turned massage therapist.

Hanging over the entire trial was the cultural watershed of the #MeToo movement, which since last October has seen a roster of powerful men from Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey lose their careers.

Experts had suggested that changing attitudes towards sexual assault could make jurors more inclined to believe female victims.

When Ms Constand first reported the assault, the district attorney at the time initially refused to press charges.

Prosecutors reopened the case in 2015, nearly a decade after she signed a US$3.4 million settlement with Cosby in 2006, claiming that new evidence had come to light just as other accusers came forward.

Crucial to the second trial was the judge's decision to let five other women testify how Cosby had preyed on them in a similar manner.

On Thursday, his fall from grace was made even starker as he left the courtroom. His two daughters - absent throughout the trial - were nowhere to be seen.

His wife, who had appeared only for closing arguments, was not there either.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2018, with the headline 'How much jail time for Cosby?'. Print Edition | Subscribe