Bill Cosby starts jail term after sexual assault conviction

Bill Cosby has spent his first night in prison in a single cell as he began his three-to-10-year sentence for sexual assault.

Corrections officials announced that Cosby — now known as Inmate Number 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 US dollar jail opened two months ago and can hold 3,830 inmates.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Bill Cosby after he was sentenced to three-to 10-years for sexual assault (Pennsylvania Department of Corrections via AP)</figcaption>
Bill Cosby after he was sentenced to three-to 10-years for sexual assault (Pennsylvania Department of Corrections via AP)

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.

As Cosby began adjusting to life behind bars, his family and publicists vowed he will appeal his conviction on three felony sexual assault counts after the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

I always look for my strength in the victims, and Andrea Constand was amazing

Calling Cosby “one of the greatest civil rights leaders in the United States for over the past 50 years,” spokesman Andrew Wyatt decried the trial as the “most sexist and racist” in the country’s history.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill said in sentencing Cosby: “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.”

Cosby’s defence team has raised the racial issue before, in 2016.

“We prosecute where the evidence takes us and that was done in this case,” district attorney Kevin Steele said on Tuesday.

After his first trial ended in a hung jury, Cosby was convicted in April of drugging and sexually assaulting Temple University women’s basketball administrator Andrea Constand.

He has faced a barrage of similar accusations from more than 60 women over the past five decades, but Ms Constand’s case is the only one that went to trial.

In a statement submitted to the court, Ms Constand, 45, said the assault and Cosby’s subsequent attacks on her character had crushed her spirit, adding: “We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator, but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.”

Prosecutor Kristen Feden said Ms Constand told her she was happy with the sentence.

“I always look for my strength in the victims, and Andrea Constand was amazing,” Ms Feden said. “Her courage and her strength was enough for me to say, ‘Let’s keep going.'”

Cosby’s lawyers asked that he be allowed to remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction, but the judge ordered him jailed immediately.

Cosby — who is legally blind and uses a cane — removed his watch, tie and jacket and walked out in a white shirt and red suspenders, his hands cuffed in front of him.

Cosby must serve the minimum of three years before becoming eligible for parole.

- Press Association

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