Cosby lawyer argues to keep him out of prison

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP/WTXF) --  Bill Cosby's lawyer says the 81-year-old comedian is a poor candidate for prison because he's old, legally blind and dependent on others.

Defense lawyer Joseph Green argued at Cosby's sentencing hearing Monday that Cosby would be at risk behind bars. He called prison an "excessive hardship." 

Green suggested an alternative punishment program would be more appropriate.

Court has adjourned for the day. A judge is expected to sentence Cosby on Tuesday.

Cosby's lawyer says a psychologist set to testify Tuesday will be the only defense witness at the comedian's sentencing.

Cosby could get up to 30 years in prison for drugging and molesting a woman in 2004, though sentencing guidelines suggest a range of one to four years is more likely.

MORE: Board recommends Cosby be classified as sexually violent predator Jury finds Bill Cosby guilty in sex assault retrial

Prosecutors told Judge Steven O'Neill the law is necessary for public safety, and the judge allowed the hearing on Cosby's status to proceed.

The defense contended that Cosby is unlikely to commit another crime because of his advanced age and health -- he is legally blind and uses a cane -- and because there have been no new complaints to authorities since Constand came forward in 2005.

The legal wrangling came at the start of a hearing that will determine how the comedian once known as America's Dad will be punished for knocking Constand out with pills and assaulting her at his suburban Philadelphia home more than 14 years ago.

The proceeding took place as another extraordinary #MeToo drama continued to unfold on Capitol Hill, where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces allegations of sexual misconduct from more than three decades ago.

Cosby was the first celebrity to go to trial in the #MeToo era and could be the first to go to prison -- perhaps for the rest of his days -- after being convicted in April.

Cosby, looking grim, walked into the courthouse on the arm of his longtime spokesman as protesters shouted at him. Constand arrived a short time later.

At the end of a hearing that could last two days, the judge could sentence Cosby to as much as 30 years in prison or send him home on probation. The state guidelines for someone like Cosby, with no prior convictions, call for about one to four years behind bars.

"Obviously, the allegations are serious, and, except for his age and poor health, would normally warrant some jail time," said Samuel Stretton, a veteran defense lawyer not connected to the case.

In the years since Constand first went to police in 2005, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, though none of those claims have led to criminal charges. At least two of those women, Lise-Lotte Lublin and former model Janice Dickinson, were among those in the courtroom Monday.

Prosecutors had hoped to have some of the other accusers address the court at sentencing. But the district attorney's office told The Associated Press on Monday that that would not happen.

It remained unclear whether Constand or Cosby would speak at the sentencing.

A few hours before the hearingn, Constand tweeted Ephesians 4:26, a Bible verse about letting go of anger: "Be wrathful, but do not sin; do not let the sun set while you are still angry; do not give the Devil an opportunity."

Cosby, who grew up in public housing in Philadelphia, became the first black actor to star in a prime-time TV show, "I Spy," in 1965. He remained a Hollywood A-lister for much of the next half-century, hitting his peak in the 1980s with the top-rated "Cosby Show" as the warm, wisecracking dad, Dr. Cliff Huxtable.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, which Constand and other accusers have done.

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