Daily News Roundup

September 26, 2018

Image: ABC News

Wednesday, September 26

Comedian Bill Cosby has been sentenced to three to 10 years in jail for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

Cosby, 81, was found guilty in April of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for the drugging and sexual assault of his one-time friend Andrea Constand, a former Temple University administrator.

Prosecutors were seeking a sentence of five to 10 years in prison. The defence asked for house arrest.

The ABC reports the comedian did not make a statement in court. Cosby sat back in his chair, his head on the headrest, as the sentence was read.

The sentence ensures that Cosby will spend no less than three years behind bars before he becomes eligible for supervised release, though he could end up staying in prison for as much as a decade.

Montgomery County Court Judge Steven O’Neill ordered Cosby, who was out on bail, be jailed immediately.

He also fined Cosby $25,000 and ordered him to pay the costs of the prosecution, calling Cosby’s crime “very serious.”

“Equal justice under the law does not allow different treatment Cosby was the first celebrity to be convicted for sexual abuse since the start of the #MeToo movement, the national reckoning with misconduct that has brought down dozens of powerful men in entertainment, politics and other fields.

The sentence caps his downfall from “America’s Dad” to disgraced felon.

Judge O’Neill’s decision to designate Cosby a “sexually violent predator” means the once-beloved star will have to undergo monthly counselling and register as a sex offender with police for the rest of his life.

Neighbours and schools will be notified of his address and crimes.

Cosby’s lawyers have already said they plan to appeal his conviction, and he has denied any wrongdoing. Asked if he wanted to address the court with a statement before sentencing, Cosby declined through his lawyers.

More than 50 other women also have accused Cosby of sexual abuse going back decades, with most complaints too old to prosecute. The Constand case was the only allegation that led to criminal charges.

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US President Donald Trump has used his speech to the United Nations General Assembly to defend his “America First” policies of putting US interests ahead of any move towards globalism, a message that was greeted by silence, blank stares, headshakes and even laughter at times from wary world leaders.

Mr Trump said he honoured the right of every nation to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions and said the United States would never tell other nations how to live, work or worship.

He added the United States expected other nations to “honour America’s sovereignty in return”.

Mr Trump, who begins his political rallies with boasts about his economic record, used the same rhetoric before the crowd of world leaders and diplomats, telling them he had accomplished more than almost any previous US president, report news agencies.

“In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” he said.

The remark led to some murmuring and laughter in the crowd, taking the president slightly aback. “So true,” he said, looking directly into the audience.

“I didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s okay,” he said.

But his 35-minute speech in the green-marbled UN hall, while relatively low-key, was also aimed squarely at Iran, which the United States accuses of harbouring nuclear ambitions and fomenting instability in the Middle East through its support for militant groups in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

He attacked Iran as a “corrupt dictatorship” that is plundering its people to pay for aggression abroad, and threatened more sanctions against Tehran.

“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction,” Mr Trump told the annual gathering. “They do not respect their neighbours or borders or the sovereign rights of nations.”

In his address to the UN assembly later in the day, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hit back, suggesting his American counterpart suffers from a “weakness of intellect”.

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Billy Slater has been granted the chance of a fairy tale finish to his rugby league career, with the Melbourne Storm great cleared to play in Sunday’s NRL grand final after avoiding suspension for a shoulder charge.

An ABC report said Slater, who will retire after the grand final, was found not guilty of a grade-one charge at a marathon judiciary hearing — lasting close to three hours — held at NRL Central in Sydney, meaning he is available for the Storm for the season decider against the Sydney Roosters at the Olympic stadium.

He had been cited for his attempted tackle on Cronulla’s Sosaia Feki in last Friday night’s preliminary final in Melbourne.

Slater, who was to return to Melbourne following the hearing, briefly addressed gathered media and expressed his gratitude to the Storm’s defence team and the judiciary panel.

“I’d like to thank the judiciary members for a fair hearing,” Slater said.

“It was important for me tonight to get my point across and what my intentions were in this incident.

“My preparations for the game starts now. I am grateful for all the support the club has shown me.”

The Storm’s legal team had argued Slater was trying to brace for the impact of the collision with Feki and he found himself in what he described to the judiciary panel as a “vulnerable position”.

Slater, who was joined by Storm coach Craig Bellamy at the hearing, claimed he had to protect himself “slightly” with his left shoulder but had always intended to make the tackle by trying to wrap his right arm around Feki.

“I feel the contact that was made was unavoidable,” Slater told the judiciary.

Slater’s lawyer Nick Ghabar showed still images of the tackle, indicating Slater’s right arm made contact with Feki.

NRL counsel Anthony La Surdo, however, argued Slater made no attempt to wrap his arms around Feki in a tackle, using slow motion footage to press his case during his cross-examination.

“That’s what you intended to do but that’s not what happened,” Mr La Surdo said.

“What you intended to do and what you ended up doing are two different Mr Ghabar told the judiciary Slater’s actions amounted to a “situation where a player did not make a conscious decision to use his shoulder”, while labelling it as “not a traditional, if there is a type of thing, shoulder charge”.

He said Slater’s initial contact in the tackle was made with his pectoral muscle and not his shoulder, and Feki had changed his direction, which meant the contact could not be avoided.

“What else could he have done?” Mr Ghabar asked the judiciary.

The judiciary panel — consisting of retired first-grade players Bob Lindner, Mal Cochrane and Sean Garlick — then found Slater not guilty following its deliberation, lasting almost an hour.

The Slater decision was greeted by a mixed response on social media, with some questioning where the game stands on shoulder charges and others simply glad he was cleared.

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