Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse in handcuffs after being sentenced in his sexual assault trial in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 25, 2018. Mark Makela/Pool via REUTERS Image Credit: AP

A judge has denied bail for 81-year-old comedy icon Bill Cosby, after he was sentenced to three to 10 years behind bars on Tuesday.

Cosby’s lawyers asked that he be allowed to remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction, but the judge appeared incredulous over the request and ordered him locked up immediately, saying that “he could quite possibly be a danger to the community.”

At an age when other Hollywood stars are settling into retirement and collecting lifetime-achievement awards, Cosby was led away to prison in handcuffs sentenced to prison in what was seen by many of his accusers as a reckoning richly deserved and long overdue.

The comedian, TV star and breaker of racial barriers became the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be sent to prison. He was found guilty in April of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his gated estate in 2004 after being barraged with similar accusations from more than 60 women over the past five decades.

“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 statement to the court, in which she said Cosby took her “beautiful, young spirit and crushed it.”

Cosby declined the opportunity to speak before the sentence came down, and afterward sat laughing and chatting with his defence team. His wife of 54 years, Camille, was not in court. Constand smiled broadly on hearing the punishment and was hugged by others in the courtroom.

In a blistering statement, Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said the comic was subjected to the “most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States.” Wyatt said all three of the psychologists who testified against Cosby were “white women who make money off of accusing black men of being sexual predators.”