Bill Cosby jailed for up to 10 years

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Television actor Bill Cosby has been jailed for up to a decade for sexually assaulting a woman in 2004.

Judge Steven O'Neill sentenced the 81-year-old comedian to three to 10 years behind bars and fined him $25,000 (£19,000) in a Pennsylvania courtroom.

He told Cosby, who is the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be sent to prison, that he was not entitled to bail while he appeals his conviction.

Prosecutors were seeking a sentence of five to 10 years in jail. Cosby's defence lawyers asked for house arrest.

The former Cosby Show star, who was known to millions as 'America's Dad', was convicted in April of drugging and molesting Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia home 14 years ago.

More than 60 women have made similar allegations.

The comedian did not make a statement in court.

He sat back in his chair, with his head on the headrest as the sentence was read.

"It is time for justice. Mr Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The time has come," Judge O'Neill said.

He quoted from Ms Constand's own statement to the court, in which she said Cosby took her "beautiful, young spirit and crushed it".

The punishment came at the end of a two-day hearing at which the judge declared Cosby a "sexually violent predator" and will have to have monthly counselling for the rest of his life.

It also means that neighbours and schools will be notified of his whereabouts.

When the ruling was announced, a woman was reported to have shot her fist in the air and whispered, "Yes!"

Cosby's lawyers had asked for house arrest, saying Cosby, who is legally blind and walks with a cane, is too old and vulnerable to do time in prison.

But prosecutors pressed for five to 10 years behind bars, claiming he could still pose a threat to women.

Montgomery Count District Attorney Kevin Steele rejected the idea that Cosby's age and failing health entitled him to mercy.

He said: "He was good at hiding this for a long time. Good at suppressing this for a long time. So it's taken a long time to get there.

The sentencing came as another #MeToo drama unfolded on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh stands accused of sexual misconduct more than 30 years ago.

Ms Constand, now 45, said she has suffered with anxiety and self-doubt for years in a statement submitted to the court.

She said she now lives alone with her two dogs and has trouble trusting people.

"When the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities," she wrote in her five-page statement.

"Now, almost 15 years later, I'm a middle-aged woman who's been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward."

Ms Constand went to police a year after waking up confused at Cosby's gated estate, only to have the district attorney pass on the case.

Prosecutors called on some of Cosby's other accusers as they pushed for a lengthy sentence, with a number of them, including model Janice Dickinson, present at the sentencing hearing.

Five other accusers took the stand at the trial as part of an effort by prosecutors to portray him as a predator.

Sky News

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