NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era, completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.
Cosby, 80, could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.
The judge ruled that Cosby will remain free pending sentencing. He’s been ordered to remain in the state of Pennsylvania.
Cosby lashed out at the prosecution when discussing whether to revoke his bail.
Prosecutor Kevin Steele said Cosby had a plane and noted his wealth in giving concerns over his bail.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor argued with the judge.
Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven O’Neill said because of Cosby’s “age and his medical condition, I am not going to simply lock him up.” Cosby has to surrender his passport and must remain in his nearby home, the judge said.
Lili Bernard, an accuser who once appeared as a guest on “The Cosby Show,” let out a wail as the verdict was read. She began to cry and court personnel had to escort her from the courtroom.
Janice Baker-Kinney, who testified that Cosby gave her Quaaludes and sexually assaulted her, told MSNBC after the verdict that “the relief is overwhelming.”
“I’m shaking with relief and I can’t stop sobbing,” she said.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents several of Cosby’s accusers, praised the verdict while alleged victims stood behind her shoulder to shoulder, their arms around each other.
Cosby, who has faced dozens of sexual misconduct allegations spanning decades, was charged with three counts aggravated indecent assault against one woman, Andrea Constand, 45, who claimed that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his home in January 2004. Cosby’s first trial ended in a mistrial in June.
In a deposition he gave over a decade ago as part of Constand’s lawsuit, Cosby acknowledged he had obtained quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with, “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.'” The sedative was a popular party drug before the U.S. banned it more than 30 years ago.
Cosby also acknowledged giving pills to Constand before their sexual encounter. But he identified them as the over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine Benadryl and insisted they were meant to help her relax.
The entertainer broke racial barriers as the first black actor to star in a network show, “I Spy,” in the 1960s. He created the top-ranked “Cosby Show” two decades later. He also found success with his “Fat Albert” animated TV show and served as pitchman for Jello-O pudding.
Later in his career, he attracted controversy for lecturing about social dysfunction in poor black neighborhoods, railing against young people stealing things and wearing baggy pants.
It was Cosby’s reputation as a public moralist that prompted a federal judge, acting in response to a request from The Associated Press, to unseal portions of the deposition.
Its release helped destroy the “Cosby Show” star’s career and good-guy image. It also prompted authorities to reopen the criminal investigation, and he was charged in late 2015.