By MICHAEL R. SISAK and CLAUDIA LAUER, Associated Press
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — 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-in-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.
Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004.
He stared straight ahead as the verdict was read but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele after the prosecutor demanded Cosby be sent immediately to jail. Steele told the judge Cosby has an airplane and might flee.
Cosby angrily denied he has a plane and called Steele an “a–hole,” shouting, “I’m sick of him!”
Judge Steven O’Neill decided Cosby can remain free on $1 million bail while he awaits sentencing but restricted him to Montgomery County, where his home is. No sentencing date was set.
Cosby waved to the crowd outside the courthouse, got into an SUV and left without saying anything. His lawyer Tom Mesereau declared “the fight is not over” and said he will appeal.
Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of Cosby’s accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.
“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps. “We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed.”
The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors had more courtroom weapons at their disposal than they did the first time: They put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too.
At Cosby’s first trial, which ended in a deadlocked jury less than a year ago, only one additional accuser was allowed to testify.
Cosby 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.
Cosby first received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. back in Sep. 4, 2003. That degree was later rescinded on Oct. 8, 2015 when Baylor’s Board of Regents voted to do so amid Cosby’s multiple past sexual assault accusations.
“Because acts of interpersonal and sexual violence contradict our very mission and values, Baylor University is investing significantly to ensure the safety of our campus,” the university wrote in a statement. “Through the efforts of our Title IX Office, we are encouraging victims to report acts of interpersonal and sexual violence, and making sure those suffering from the effects of such acts are provided the necessary support and services to feel safe and be academically successful. It is against this backdrop that Baylor’s Board of Regents has decided to take this action.”
Other institutions that have since rescinded Cosby’s honorary degrees include Marquette University, Wilkes University, Fordham University, Brown University and University of San Francisco.
The Baylor Lariat contributed to this report