A judge sentenced former Penn honorary degree holder Bill Cosby to three to 10 years in prison Tuesday, the second day of Cosby's sentencing hearing. Cosby, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, had his honorary degree from Penn revoked this February.
This is the first of the sentences delivered in the high profile #metoo sexual misconduct cases.
In April, Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.
While the comedian initially faced up to 30 years in prison, attorneys for the defense and prosecution decided to combine Cosby's three conviction counts into one charge for sentencing.
Steven O’Neill, the judge ruling in Cosby’s case, announced the charges had been merged because they all arose from the same incident. CNN reported the state sentencing guidelines recommend 22 to 36 months in prison.
On Monday, prosecutors asked judges to sentence the defendant to five to 10 years in prison, while the defense argued that Cosby is no longer dangerous because of his age and blindness. Still, a state panel recommended Cosby be classified as a "sexually violent predator."
"Mr. Cosby is not dangerous," Joseph Green, Cosby’s attorney, said in the sentencing hearing. "Eighty-one-year-old blind men who are not self-sufficient are not a danger, unless perhaps to themselves."
More than 50 women have shared remarkably similar stories accusing the entertainer of sexual misconduct. Cosby, who was accused in 2016 of sexually assaulting someone at Penn Relays in 2004, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Penn in 1990 and spoke at Commencement in 1997.
Penn revoked Bill Cosby's degree in February 2018, two years after the initial allegations surfaced. At the same time, the University rescinded the honorary degree of former Penn trustee Steve Wynn after similar allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against Wynn. Wynn's name was also removed from Wynn Commons, which was renamed Penn Commons.
When the charges against Cosby first came to light, however, Penn released a statement stating that the University would not rescind his degree because it went against practice to do so.
At the time, 11 out of the 60 universities that awarded honors to Cosby had rescinded his degree. More universities followed suit during the two years of subsequent investigations following the accusations, but Penn wasn't yet among them.
In March, Cosby’s lawyers unsuccessfully filed a motion to remove O'Neill from arbitrating the case because his wife, a Penn Counseling and Psychological Services counselor, was an advocate for victims of sexual assault.
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