By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Contributor
Bill Cosby arrived at the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania courthouse in a black SUV surrounded by his publicists and attorneys. He left in a prison van, escorted by sheriff’s deputies.
Judge Steven T. O’Neill sentenced the fallen comic to as many as 10 years in state prison on Tuesday September 25. Cosby, 81, could be released after serving a minimum of three years. Prosecutors had asked for a five- to 10-year sentence.
His lawyers immediately filed a notice of appeal following his sentencing.
“You have no right to it,” O’Neill told Cosby’s attorney Joe Green, who asked that his client remain free on bail pending appeal. “This is a serious crime,” said the judge, who earlier had designated Cosby a “sexual violent predator” which means he’ll have to undergo a lifetime of monthly counseling and report quarterly to authorities.
Because of the “sexual violent predator” designation, Cosby’s name also will appear on a sex-offender registry sent to neighbors, schools and victims.
Additionally, after having already paid the victim in the case Andrea Constand, $3.4 million in a civil settlement, the “sexual violent predator” designation can also be used against him in several defamation lawsuits that are pending against him.
Cosby’s spokesman Andrew Wyatt told reporters that the sentence continues the “lynching of a legacy.”
“This has been the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States,” Wyatt said. “Dr. Cosby has been one of the greatest civil rights leaders in the United States for over the last 50 years. He’s also been one of the greatest educators of men and boys over the past 50 years.
“This wasn’t pointed out in court to the jurors or allowed in because of the racist and sexist mass media was attacking and denouncing Dr. Cosby whenever his lawyers even hinted that racism and sexism was present.”
Wyatt continued, “All three psychologists that testified against Dr. Cosby were white women who make money off of accusing Black men of being a sexual predator and it’s no accident that Prosecutor Steele worked so closely with anti-Black and anti-male activist groups who tried to extort $100 million from Dr. Cosby in 2014.”
Wyatt and Cosby’s wife, Camille, also pointed to an NNPA Newswire exclusive story earlier this month that revealed that tapes used to help convict Cosby were doctored.
After reading the NNPA Newswire story, Cosby hired a forensic firm in northern Virginia to review recordings of phone calls with Cosby provided by Constand’s mother, Gianna. The recordings were used as evidence in both of Cosby’s trials.
However, Wyatt and Camille Cosby said the firm found that the recordings were indeed doctored.
In a statement from Camille Cosby, read by publicist Ebonee Benson on Tuesday, Cosby’s wife said they also presented the findings to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania detectives who investigated Bill Cosby.
“They found that they were unable to authenticate the tapes,” Camille Cosby said in her statement.
Cosby said her husband’s legal team would immediately file for relief on the basis that Steele used falsified evidence to win the conviction.
“The right to a fair trial is of utmost importance,” Camille Cosby said.
“The prosecutor has the responsibility to protect the innocent… …Gianna Constand surreptitiously and illegally recorded a conversation with my husband, which the former District Attorney Bruce Castor said was illegal,” she said.
“Steele used illegal recordings in both trials.”
Wyatt called it a persecution. “I’m not saying Mr. Cosby is Jesus, but we know what this country has done to Black men for centuries,” he said.
Cosby was found guilty in April of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for the drugging and sexual assault of Constand, a former Temple University employee, at his home in Montgomery County more than 14 years ago.
He is the first celebrity to be criminally convicted of sexual abuse since the start of the #MeToo movement. The national movement has resulted in numerous celebrities and powerful individuals such as former NBC “Today” host Matt Lauer, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and CBS morning show co-host Charlie Rose, losing their careers.
President Donald Trump has also been accused of sexual misconduct and his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh was set to face at least one of his accusers when he appeared before a Senate committee last week.
Cosby, who declined to address the court during sentencing and also didn’t testify during either of his trials, has vowed to continue to fight his conviction.
His attorneys as well as many other legal experts have said there are numerous grounds for a higher court to consider overthrowing the verdicts against him.
Among O’Neill’s rulings that Cosby’s team believes are questionable is the contentious relationship O’Neill has had with former District Attorney Bruce Castor, who previously declined to file charges against Cosby because he said Constand wasn’t credible and there wasn’t evidence to support a prosecution.
Castor also made an agreement with Cosby in which the actor would waive his Fifth Amendment right and would sit for a civil deposition. The then-District Attorney agreed that whatever Cosby said in the deposition would be sealed and could never be used to prosecute him.
Camille Cosby recently filed a request for a full investigation into O’Neill with the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board at the state’s capitol in Harrisburg.
“In light of Judge O’Neill’s continuing unethical conduct, I have retained a former prosecutor based in Harrisburg, Brian W. Perry, to facilitate my efforts to uncover the truth regarding the longstanding and ongoing feud between Castor and the judge,” Camille Cosby said in a statement last week.
“Mr. Perry will provide the Judicial Conduct Board with recent written communications from Mr. Castor that contradict the judge’s claim that there is no grudge,” Camille Cosby said.
“For example, an email from Mr. Castor references Judge O’Neill as ‘A judge with an enormous potential bias [who] did not disclose that possible bias to the lawyers to give them the option to seek a new judge,’” she said, specifically referencing an email Castor sent to the Washington Informer on March 27th.
Camille Cosby’s statement continued, “One week prior to my request for investigation, Bill Cosby filed a motion demanding that the judge provide a full accounting of his longstanding feud with and bias against Bruce Castor, the former DA of Montgomery County.
“The motion explained that Mr. Cosby retained a former FBI agent to investigate the relationship of Messrs. Castor and O’Neill after recently being tipped off about their feud in an unsourced tabloid [Radar Online] article. The former agent discovered that, in 1999, when Messrs. O’Neill and Castor were running against each other to become DA, Mr. Castor ordered a female prosecutor whom Mr. O’Neill had dated to visibly support Mr. Castor during a key debate.”
After Bill Cosby was led away in handcuffs on Tuesday, Wyatt said his boss was holding up well.
“Bill Cosby is fine. They prosecuted Jesus, and look what happened to him,” Wyatt said. “[Cosby] believes in God, and he will be OK.”