Bill Cosby has been convicted of his crimes. This is what will happen next.

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In the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era, Bill Cosby has been convicted of drugging and molesting a woman.

It completes the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV super-stardom as America’s Dad.

Cosby, 80, was accused of drugging and sexually molesting Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004 and has been found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

Reports state that Cosby lashed out at District Attorney Kevin Steele after the prosecutor demanded the former TV star be denied bail as the actor had a plane and might flee.

“He doesn’t have a plane, you a**hole!” said Cosby to Steele.

“I’m sick of him!”

Eventually, the judge granted the The Cosby Show actor bail set at $1 million US.

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Bill Cosby leaves a preliminary hearing on sexual assault charges on May 24, 2016
Bill Cosby leaving a preliminary hearing in 2016. Image: Getty.

AAP reports that when the verdict was announced shrieks erupted in the courtroom with some of his accusers whimpering and crying. However, Constand remained stoic, before hugging her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.

Outside on the courthouse steps, celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby's accusers, spoke to media and said that 'justice had been done'.

"We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed."

The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, who has been married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too. One of those women asked him through her tears, "You remember, don't you, Mr Cosby?"

The jury panel of seven men and five women reached a verdict after deliberating for 14 hours over two days, vindicating prosecutors' decision to retry Cosby after his first trial ended with a hung jury less than a year ago.

Constand, 45, a former Temple women's basketball administrator, told jurors that Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called 'her friends' and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilised, unable to resist or say no.

Currently this is the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said the former TV star drugged and molested them over a span of five decades.

Cosby's retrial took place against the backdrop of #MeToo, the movement against sexual misconduct that has taken down powerful men in rapid succession, among them Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey and Senator Al Franken.

His lawyers slammed #MeToo, calling Cosby its victim and likening it to a witch hunt or a lynching.

Then his new defence team, led by Tom Mesereau, the celebrity lawyer who won an acquittal for Michael Jackson on child-molestation charges, launched a highly aggressive attack on Constand and the other witnesses.

Their star witness, a longtime Temple employee, testified that Constand once spoke of setting up a prominent person and suing. Constand sued Cosby after prosecutors initially declined to file charges, settling with him for nearly $US3.4 million over a decade ago.

But Cosby himself had long ago confirmed sordid revelations about drugs and extramarital sex.

Gloria Allred
Gloria Allred (right) outside the courthouse after the judge announced his guilty verdict. Image: Getty.

In a deposition he gave over a decade ago as part of Constand's lawsuit, Cosby acknowledged he had obtained quaaludes (a sedative-hypnotic drug) to give to women he wanted to have sex with, "the same as a person would say, 'Have a drink'."

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.

What's next for Cosby? While the disgraced actor was given bail, he won't be able to travel outside of Montgomery County while he waits for his sentencing hearing. His lawyers have already announced that they plan on appealing the conviction.

While Cosby could receive up to 10 years in prison for each of his three counts of aggravated indecent assault, state sentencing guidelines indicate that he'll most likely receive less. However, at 80 years of age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, Susan McNaugton, has already clarified that he will not receive any special treatment for his age as any prison would be able to take care of him.

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Cosby will also now have to undergo assessment to determine whether he is a 'sexually violent predator'.

Defined as anyone convicted of a sexually violent offence who has a "mental abnormality or personality disorder" that makes him or her likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offences, under Pennsylvanian law, anyone convicted of a sexually violent offence must undergo an assessment to determine if he or she is a "sexually violent predator."

A state board has 90 days to make a recommendation to the judge, who has the final say, and if confirmed, Cosby will receive at least monthly sex offender counselling for life and be placed on the state police offender registry.

 

 

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