The actor once known as “America’s Dad” has officially been ruled to be a sexually violent predator in a Pennsylvania court—the highest-risk classification for sexual offenders in the state.
The classification means that Cosby must remain on the sex offenders’ registry for the rest of his life, undergoing regular counseling, register with state police, and notify any community he lives in of his sex offender status.
The ruling today (Sept., 25 ) comes ahead of the actor’s sentencing for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. While the defense has pushed for leniency and a sentence of no more than a couple of years, perhaps to be served under house arrest, the prosecution is seeking five to 10 years imprisonment, a $25,000 fine, and funds to pay for the costs of prosecution. Today’s designation may lean toward a stricter sentence.
The finding is part of the state-specific regulations of the federal law known as Megan’s Law, which requires authorities to inform the public about registered sexual offenders in their area. At a minimum, they must make registry information public. It’s up to each state to decide how it is done and to what extent information will be readily available. Cosby’s classification brings with it the most onerous sex-offender registration requirements that can be applied in Pennsylvania.
It suggests that Judge Steven T. O’Neill may believe, as a state-appointed psychologist told the court yesterday, that Cosby—accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct is dangerous, and suffers from a mental disorder. “The behaviors are beyond [a sexually violent predator’s] controls,” psychologist Kristen Dudley said, “so they are urged to act on it. He is likely to reoffend.”