NORRISTOWN, Pa.: After decades of whispers, lawsuits, investigations and close calls — and a multitude of women who lost hope anyone would ever believe their word against that of America’s Dad — Bill Cosby could be headed to prison at age 80 for the remainder of his life.

The comedian was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion 14 years ago in a verdict women’s advocates called a turning point in the #MeToo movement that proved what Cosby’s accusers had been saying all along — his nice-guy image was a sham.

Lili Bernard, who said Cosby sexually assaulted her before giving her a one-time role on The Cosby Show in 1992, became so emotional in the courtroom gallery that she accidentally banged her forehead on the bench in front of her.

“I’m overcome with gratitude,” Bernard, sobbing, said outside the courthouse. “I feel like I have to pinch myself. Am I awake? It’s a miracle.”

The verdict sealed the spectacular late-in-life downfall of an entertainer who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing Dr. Cliff Huxtable.

Dozens of accusers

It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said Cosby drugged and molested them over five decades but whose stories were often disbelieved or ignored years before #MeToo put a spotlight on sexual misconduct by powerful men.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated 14 hours over two days before convicting Cosby of violating Constand in 2004.

Constand, a 45-year-old Temple University women’s basketball administrator, said Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called “your friends” and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no. Cosby claimed the encounter was consensual, saying he gave her the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl to relax.

Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele after the prosecutor demanded Cosby be sent immediately to jail. Steele told the judge Cosby has an airplane and might flee.

Cosby angrily denied he has a plane and called Steele an “a**hole,” shouting, “I’m sick of him!”

Judge Steven O’Neill decided Cosby can remain free on $1 million bail while he awaits sentencing but restricted him to Montgomery County, where his home is. No sentencing date was set.

Cosby waved to the crowd outside the courthouse, got into an SUV and left without saying anything. His lawyer Tom Mesereau declared “the fight is not over” and said he will appeal.

Emotions in courtroom

Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of Cosby’s accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.

The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors had more courtroom weapons at their disposal than they did the first time: They put on the stand five other women who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too.

At Cosby’s first trial, which ended in a deadlocked jury less than a year ago, only one additional accuser was allowed to testify.

“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps. “We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed.”

The district attorney became teary-eyed as he commended Constand for what he said was courage in coming forward. As Constand stood silently behind him, Steele apologized to her for a previous DA’s decision in 2005 not to charge Cosby.

Cosby was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, each carrying a standard sentence of five to 10 years in prison. The counts are likely to be merged, but given Cosby’s age even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.