A sentencing hearing for comedian Bill Cosby began Monday as women who said he drugged and physically took advantage of them, including one whom he was convicted of sexually assaulting, filled a Pennsylvania courtroom to watch the first major-celebrity punishment in the #MeToo era.
Constand was the only victim to give evidence at his first trial, which ended in a mistrial with the jurors deadlocked and unable to reach a unanimous decision.
Bill Cosby's spokesman insists the 81-year-old comedian is "still America's Dad" despite his conviction on sexual assault charges.
The defendant could serve up to 30 years in state prison with each count carrying a maximum of ten years behind bars, and a minimum of 22 months.
Cosby's lawyers had fought the "sexually violent predator" designation, arguing that Pennsylvania's sex-offender law remains unconstitutional and that he is no threat to the public at his age.
Steele quoted from chief accuser Andrea Constand's victim-impact statement, which said the attack had crushed her spirit.
The court in Norristown, Pennsylvania, has scheduled two days for the sentencing, to give witnesses the opportunity to speak before the judge.
Prosecutors are expected to seek a lengthy sentence, citing the nature of Cosby's crime as well as his alleged history of misconduct.
"Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you".
Representing women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct in the past, Lawyer Gloria Allred stated outside the courtroom, "Women are finally believed, not just in a hashtag '#MeToo' but also in the court of law". The distinction would subject Cosby to lifetime registration with state police, lifetime sex offender counseling and community notification. A number of accusers, including model Janice Dickinson, were on hand for the sentencing hearing.
"Eighty-one-year-old blind men who are not self-sufficient are not a danger, unless perhaps to themselves", he said.
O'Neill has presided over the case for almost three years, from shortly after Cosby's December 2015 arrest to a 2017 trial that ended in a jury deadlock to the jury finding this past April that Cosby drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia estate in 2004.
Steele told the judge that the defense request to spare Cosby from prison is essentially a "get-out-of -jail-free card", and asserted that Cosby even hired a band to play for him while on house arrest.
"We ask this because of who he is behind the mask, behind the act that he perpetuated for all the years that he did, behind he used to victimize", Steele said.
Cosby is legally blind, and his attorney, Joseph Green, argued the superstar comic is too frail to get through a long prison sentence.
"I feel like I'm dreaming", Lili Bernard, who has accused Cosby of assault, said after the verdict.
Women's advocates hailed Cosby's sentence as a landmark #MeToo moment. Cosby declined to participate in the evaluation by Dudley, who said she came to her determination by reviewing trial transcripts and other reports.
They say he has no remorse and is capable of reoffending.
Defense attorneys challenged Dudley's assessment that he would reoffend, saying that his age and blindness made it unlikely.
Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison for each of the three counts against him - but the judge could impose a longer or shorter sentence.
The sentencing is only a few hours away.