Bill Cosby has been sentenced to between three and 10 years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman over a decade ago, becoming the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be jailed for his crimes.

“It is time for justice,” said Judge Steven O’Neill, who handed down the sentence on Tuesday at the Montgomery county courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Cosby was found guilty earlier this year of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia estate in 2004. The sentence caps a precipitous downfall for an actor once known as “America’s Dad,” who starred in the popular Cosby Show in the 1980s and 90s.

The 81-year-old comedian was taken into custody immediately and led away in handcuffs after the judge refused to let him out on bail while he appeals, saying he “could quite possibly be a danger to the community”. Cosby will serve the sentence in state prison.

“Mr. Cosby, your guilt has been determined by a jury. You were convicted of a very serious crime,” O’Neill said, adding that Cosby’s notoriety did not affect his ruling.

“Of course, the higher the ascent the sharper the fall. I recognise that impact upon Mr Cosby, and I am sorry for that.”

Cosby declined the opportunity to speak before being sentenced. He showed little visible reaction as the sentence was handed down, but was later reported to be sat smiling, laughing and chatting with his defence team. His wife of 54 years, Camille, was not in court.

Constand smiled broadly as she heard the sentence and was hugged by others in the courtroom. The judge said Constand’s “powerful” victim statement, released by prosecutors on Tuesday, had carried great weight in his decision that nothing short of a significant stint in state prison would be appropriate. “As she said, Mr. Cosby, you took her beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed her,” he said.

In the pouring rain outside the courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Gloria Allred, attorney for several of Cosby’s accusers said: “This has been a long journey to justice for all of the accusers … we’re glad that judgment day has finally come. Mr Cosby has shown no remorse.”

“I have waited 32 years for this day, hoping my nightmares would go away. I prayed every day that Mr. Cosby would go to prison,” said Chelan Lasha, who testified at the trial.

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Source: The Guardian