1. ITV Report

'Sexual predator' Bill Cosby jailed over historical sex assault

Comedian Bill Cosby has been jailed for up to 10 years for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman over a decade ago.

The 81-year-old was sentenced in Philadelphia on Tuesday for the attack on former basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.

Cosby was convicted in April of three counts of aggravated indecent assault - the first "celebrity" trial of the #MeToo era.

The 81-year-old assaulted former basketball administrator Andrea Constand. Credit: AP

During sentencing, a judge labelled Cosby a "sexually violent predator", meaning he must also undergo monthly counselling for the rest of his life and appear on the sex-offender register.

Prosecutors had argued for a sentence of between five and 10 years, but the judge ruled in favour of a jail term ranging from three to 10 years.

Since Ms Constand first went to police in 2005, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, though none of the claims have led to criminal charges.

Ms Constand said in a statement submitted to the court and released on Tuesday that she has had to cope with years of anxiety and self-doubt that have left her "stuck in a holding pattern".

The 45-year-old said her training as a professional basketball player had led her to think she could handle anything, but "life as I knew it" ended on the night Cosby knocked her out with pills and violated her.

A mugshot of Cosby was released by police. Credit: Police handout

She said she now lives alone with her two dogs and has trouble trusting people.

"When the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities," she wrote in her five-page statement.

"Now, almost 15 years later, I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward."

Ms Constand said her life had not been the same since the assault. Credit: AP

Cosby's punishment all but completed the dizzying, late-in-life fall for the comedian, former TV star and breaker of racial barriers.

"It is time for justice. Mr Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The time has come," Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said.

He quoted from victim Andrea Constand’s own statement to the court, in which she said Cosby took her "beautiful, young spirit and crushed it".

Former model Janice Dickinson, who was among the 60 or so women who have come forward to accuse Cosby of drugging and violating them over the past five decades, looked at Cosby and said: "Here’s the last laugh, pal."

Cosby will serve up to 10 years in jail. Credit: AP

The comic, famed for his role on the top-rated Cosby Show in the 1980s was, convicted in April of violating Constand at his suburban Philadelphia estate in 2004.

His lawyers had asked for house arrest, saying Cosby, who is legally blind, is too old and vulnerable to do time in prison.

Montgomery County district attorney Kevin Steele rejected the notion that Cosby's age and infirmity entitle him to mercy.

"He was good at hiding this for a long time. Good at suppressing this for a long time. So it's taken a long time to get there," Steele said.