A Pennsylvania judge designated Bill Cosby a “sexually violent predator” as part of his sentence for aggravated indecent assault. What does that mean for Cosby, exactly?
The label is a legal term, not a clinical one. Under Pennsylvania law, a sexually violent predator is someone convicted of a sexually violent offense who has “a mental abnormality or personality disorder” that makes the person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.
The designation had no bearing on Cosby’s state prison sentence of three to 10 years. Cosby already has to register as a sex offender due to the nature of his crime. The designation subjects him to additional requirements as a sex offender for his treatment and the terms of his release.
Sex offender registration and notification is not intended to be punitive. It is supposed to be a tool for ensuring public safety and managing treatment for offenders, with the goal of preventing re-offending.
Anyone classified as a sexually violent predator in Pennsylvania is subject to the following:
- Lifetime registration on the state’s sex offender registry;
- Mandatory lifetime sex offender counseling at least once a month;
- Community notification: Law enforcement must notify the community – neighbors, county children and youth agencies, local day care centers, school districts and institutions of higher education – that the person is a sexually violent offender and provide his address, offense and photograph.
Judge Steven O’Neill made the determination Tuesday after hearing expert testimony and arguments from the state and Cosby’s lawyers.
The Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, which reviewed Cosby’s case, recommended that he be labeled a sexually violent predator.
A member of the board said Cosby has a mental disorder that involves urges toward nonconsenting women. Such behavior in offenders is “are beyond their controls, so they are urged to act on it,” psychologist Kristen testified in court. “He is likely to reoffend.”
Cosby’s lawyers said his age, 81, and blindness made it unlikely that he would reoffend.
CNN’s Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper contributed to this report.