The court battle over Bill Cosby’s sexually violent predator classification could be an indicator ahead of sentencing



Bill Cosby fights violent sexual predator label

The comedian could face a stricter parole and mandatory treatment

NORRISTOWN, Pa. – There is nothing more unstained.

Today, the “Cosby Show” reruns, and most of the other tracks of Bill Cosby’s decades-long career has been scrubbed from the vast expanse of the TV landscape. The honorary degrees are stripped, and future contracts rolled.

Cosby’s lawyers are challenging the legality of the process by which a Pennsylvania council recommended he be classified as a sexually violent predator. She also claimed in a court filing that the state’s recently revised sex offender registry law is unconstitutional and should not be applied retroactively.

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Now, as the 81-year-old awaits sentencing, Pennsylvania’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board has recommended the man once known as America’s favorite TV dad, will be classified as a sexually violent predator.

But Cosby and his legal team plan to challenge the designation. They claimed in a court filing last week that the state recently revised sex offender registry law is unconstitutional and should not be applied retroactively.

Trial attorney, Eric Weitz, says that this is common.

“Money is no problem [for Cosby] so we can plan for every conceivable constitutional challenge to the law mounted,” he said.


Bill Cosby was convicted of drugging and murder of Andrea Constant in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo-era.

((c) Dominick Reuter

The assessment evaluated by psychologists, psychiatrists and criminal justice professionals, looks at 14 different areas to determine the status. Usually the details are not public, but in this case, the president of the court ordered the council to offer Cosby’s team with a “full and completed copies” of all materials of the board of directors considered in their decision-making process.

While this decision would not affect Cosby’s freedom, the classification would have to be increased treatment in the prison and the increased reports of neighbours when he is released. And if the court agrees with the state, the former TV star would be mandated to receive sex offender counseling by a state approved provider at least once a month for the rest of his life.

Dean Daniel Filler, Drexel University School of Law, note: “This should not be seen as a punishment as it is a punishment then he is entitled to a jury trial,” adding, “This is not-criminal, and should only be about the safety of the public.”


Under Pennsylvania law, “a sexually violent predator is a person who has a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes it likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.”

The PA-council recommends that someone be designated as a predator in only 20 to 25 percent of the cases that are referred by the judges. Of the cases, about 75 percent of the time the court agrees with the findings.

Cosby was the first celebrity to be convicted in the #metoo-era, and his conviction reflects a major shift in the way society views sexual abuse.

“This is a step in the right direction”, says Dominique Howard, Executive Director of Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR). “Rape is still the most under-reported crime in the country, but this belief has given to the victims is justification and signaled to the world a shift of power.”

A judge will ultimately have the last word, or to accept, the state of the recommendation. A date for the sexually violent predator hearing has not been set, but it is likely that it will have to come before Cosby sentencing hearing scheduled for 24 September.

Talia Kirkland is a multimedia reporter based in Philadelphia, Pa.

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