Bill Cosby will walk into a Pennsylvania courthouse Monday and face Judge Steven O’Neill, who has presided over the comedian’s sexual assault case for nearly three years. The hearing may conclude with Cosby losing his freedom for the rest of his life, reports WHYY radio in Philadelphia. More than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct spanning decades. It was the testimony of Andrea Constand, who twice confronted Cosby in court over how he drugged and molested her in 2004, that helped convince a jury that he was guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby’s attorneys are expected to appeal. For five months, the comedian has lived in his mansion in suburban Philadelphia, outfitted with an ankle monitor. It is the same place a jury found he drugged and sexually assaulted Constand, the only Cosby accuser whose case led to criminal charges.
The judge has set aside two days for the sentencing. Prosecutors wanted to have some of the dozens of women who have lodged sexual misconduct accusations against Cosby to testify, similar to the sentencing of gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. O’Neill ruled against that. “This is certainly justice delayed, but it’s not justice denied,” said Northwestern University law Prof. Deborah Tuerkheimer, a former sex crimes prosecutor. “Everybody will be watching. Everyone will want to know if Cosby is given a pass after all this. If the answer is no, that’s a message that will reverberate.” O’Neill could sentence Cosby, 81, to house arrest or probation. He also could get from 10 months to four years behind bars under Pennsylvania’s sentencing guidelines. O’Neill could go beyond the guidelines and imprison Cosby for decades. “Even a term of a few years could be the equivalent of a life sentence for Cosby,” said University of Pittsburgh law Prof. David Harris.