Inside Day 1 of Bill Cosby's Sentencing Hearing for Sexual Assault Conviction

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Bill Cosby outside the Montgomery County Courthouse on the first day of sentencing in his sexual assault trial on September 24, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Mark Makela/Getty Images

Day one of Bill Cosby's sentencing hearing after he was found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman began on Monday, with the 81-year-old comedian facing up to 30 years in prison.

Cosby arrived at court just after 9:20 a.m. in Norristown, Pennsylvania, to receive his sentencing. He was escorted inside the building on the arm of his lawyer, passing reporters shouting questions, photographers and camera people filming his entrance. Additionally, there was a female protester shouting with a musical accompaniment about justice being served and to “end rape.” 

Cosby appeared to be in an upbeat mood as he walked to the courtroom, smiling, and at one point, he pointed to the crowd. He seemed unfazed by the commotion and did not engage with the media. 

In April, Cosby was found guilty on three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault stemming from a 2004 case involving Andrea Constand, a former employee at his alma mater, Temple University. The jury reached the verdict in court during a retrial, though the Cosby Show star still maintains that he's innocent. 

It was a full house inside the courtroom on Monday for his sentencing. Model Janice Dickinson and three other women who accused Cosby of sexual assault sat in a row of seats behind Constand. The women were comforting one another throughout the hearing, sitting together with their arms around each other. One of the women, Chelan Lasha, was emotional upon entering the courtroom and had to wipe away tears.

As for Constand, she appeared to be in good spirits as she entered the courtroom, greeting the other women with a smile. Later, she appeared stoic and poised throughout the court proceedings. 

The morning session of the sentencing hearing was devoted to whether Cosby would have to register as a SVP (sexually violent predator). If a convicted sexual predator registers as an SVP, their address, job and travel plans have to be communicated to the state and all the information about their whereabouts is made public. The state wanted Cosby’s sentencing to involve registering as an SVP, but Cosby’s defense argued against it, one reason named because it could impact his ability to visit with his grandchildren.

On Monday, the state called the psychologist who assessed Cosby's case, Kristen Dudley, to the stand. Based on her assessment -- which involved reading transcripts from the trial and mistrial, but did not include any interviews with Cosby himself -- she stated that Cosby is at risk to re-offend, and therefore, should have to register as an SVP. The defense then cross-examined her and called into question whether she took into account his blindness and age when determining his likelihood of committing another assault.

During the cross-examination, Cosby rolled his eyes and smirked on multiple occasions, and his sexual assault accusers noticed and appeared to take offense. In hushed tones, they were heard telling one another, “he’s actually laughing!”

According to CBS News, prosecutors asked judge Steven O'Neill to sentence Cosby to five to 10 years in prison. However, Cosby's defense attorney, Joseph Green, argued that he is too old and frail to serve time behind bars, and instead recommended he be placed in a detention or rehabilitation facility.

In May, Constand sat down with Dateline following the once beloved comedian's guilty verdict and described the night she said she was sexually assaulted by Cosby. 

"He had three blue pills in his hand and he put his hand out. 'I said, 'What are those?'" she recalled to NBC News reporter Kate Snow. "He said, 'They'll help you relax.'"

Constand said upon taking the pills, she started to slur her words and had trouble walking. That's when she said Cosby escorted her to a couch where he sexually assaulted her. "My mind is saying, 'Move your hands, kick, I don't want this, why is this person doing this?'" she said she remembered thinking to herself. "I was limp. I was a limp noodle."

This case marked the first criminal charges against Cosby after more than 50 women came forward accusing him of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them. The alleged incidents date as far back as 1969, though Cosby has denied all wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Cosby's wife, Camille, has stood by her husband and posted a lengthy statement on Facebook in May in his defense. “Someday the truth will prevail, it always does," she wrote in part.

Here's more of Camille's statement:

-- Reporting by Darla Murray

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