Bill Cosby Faces Up to 30 Years in Prison and Official ‘Sexually Violent Predator’ Labelling

Bill Cosby faces sentencing starting Sept. 24, along with a sexual offender status ruling.

The 81-year-old former comedian and actor was convicted in April of sexual assault of a woman who said he drugged and molested her in 2004, Fox News reported. She was the only of Cosby’s accusers whose case still fell within the statute of limitations.

Sentencing is expected to go until Sept. 25 while the courts determine Cosby’s punishment for three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. His lawyers said they would appeal.

The sentencing is expected to first deal with Cosby’s status as a sexual offender. His legal team is trying to avoid their client being classified as a “sexually violent predator.” Such a classification would mean Cosby would face lifetime counseling, community alerts, and public shaming, AP reported.

Cosby’s defense argued that the laws are unconstitutional.

“It’s the modern-day version of a scarlet letter,” said lawyer and former Philadelphia public defender Demetra Mehta, via AP. “Which I think is sort of an interesting philosophical issue at this time with the #MeToo movement, but also criminal justice reform.”

Pennsylvania’s sex offender board evaluated Cosby as having a mental defect or personality disorder that underlies his behavior. Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill will make the determination on Sept. 24.

Legal experts think the sex offender ruling could be used by women engaged in defamation lawsuits against Cosby, like a case involving seven women in Massachusetts, AP reported.

“That may [also] be about legacy protection, about what the obituary says, what the Wikipedia page says,” said Daniel Filler, dean of Drexel University’s Kline College of Law, via AP. “You can bet, especially in crowd-sourced things, everything’s going to begin with ‘he’s a sexually violent predator.’ It’s like a slogan. He has a tag now.”

How it Started

Cosby’s troubles began when a clip of a joke by comedian Hannibal Buress went viral in 2014. The clip renewed interest in sexual allegations against Cosby and resulted in more women coming forward.

As a result of the scandal, Netflix cancelled the release of a comedy special featuring Cosby, according to The Wrap. Comedy tours were cancelled, and he was stripped of honorary degrees. Cosby also ceased doing performances in 2015 prior to a one-night special in January at a Philadelphia club, NPR reported.

Bill Cosby’s official Facebook page shows a link to a comedy concert video, which the Amazon page for the video shows was published in 2013. There is also a post remembering and thanking singer Aretha Franklin for singing the theme song for one of Cosby’s TV shows, “A Different World.” Franklin passed away Aug. 16.

The page also features a puzzling post with a video by Louis Farrakhan addressing the allegations against Bill Cosby. The video does not necessarily put Cosby in a good light, but Cosby post the tags: #ThankYouMinsterFarrakhan, #ThankYouNationOfIslam, #IMaintainMyInnocence, #FollowTheTruth.

Another post said to be an “Official Statement From Camille O. Cosby” paints Cosby as a victim and blames the courts and the country for his situation, as well as racism.

“Three criminal charges, promised during an unethical campaign for the district attorney’s office, were filed against my husband…all based on what I believe to be a falsified account by the newly elected district attorney’s key witness,” Cosby’s wife wrote in the post. She then calls for an investigation into “that district attorney and his cohorts.”