81-Year-Old Bill Cosby, Now A Prison Inmate, Convicted For Assault
Bill Cosby spent his first night in prison alone, in a single cell near the infirmary, as he began his three-to-10-year sentence for sexual assault.
Corrections officials announced Wednesday that Cosby — now known as Inmate No. NN7687 — will serve his sentence at SCI Phoenix, a new state prison about 20 miles from the gated estate where a jury concluded he drugged and molested a woman in 2004.
The $400 million lockup opened two months ago and can hold 3,830 inmates.
Cosby will meet with prison medical staff, psychologists and others as the staff assesses his needs. Under prison policy, the 81-year-old comedian will be allowed phone calls and visits and will get a chance to exercise.
The prison’s long-term goal is to place Cosby in the general population, officials said.
“We are taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure Mr. Cosby’s safety and general welfare in our institution,” Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said in a statement.
As Cosby began adjusting to life behind bars, his family and publicists vowed he’ll appeal his conviction on three felony sexual assault counts after the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era. Calling Cosby “one of the greatest civil rights leaders in the United States for over the past 50 years,” spokesman Andrew Wyatt on Tuesday decried the trial as the “most sexist and racist” in the country’s history. The judge, prosecutor and jury saw it differently.
“No one is above the law. And no one should be treated disproportionately because of who they are, where they live, or even their wealth, celebrity or philanthropy,” Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill said in sentencing Cosby to an above-average sentence.
Cosby’s defense team has raised the racial issue before, in 2016, before quickly scrapping it.
“We prosecute where the evidence takes us and that was done in this case,” District Attorney Kevin Steele said Tuesday.
Cosby’s lawyers asked that he be allowed to remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction, but the judge ordered him locked up immediately, saying that “he could quite possibly be a danger to the community.”
Cosby — who is legally blind and uses a cane — removed his watch, tie and jacket and walked out in a white dress shirt and red suspenders, his hands cuffed in front of him.
Cosby must serve the minimum of three years before becoming eligible for parole.
Cosby’s punishment, which also included a $25,000 fine, came at the end of a two-day hearing at which the judge declared him a “sexually violent predator” — a designation that subjects him to monthly counseling for the rest of his life and requires that neighbors and schools be notified of his whereabouts. A psychologist for the state testified that Cosby appears to have a mental disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to have sex with women without their consent.