NEW YORK (AP) — A man convicted of raping his former stepdaughter in an attack she disclosed years later in a college application essay was sentenced Monday to 18 years in prison.
The 62-year-old man, balding with a bushy gray beard, entered the Brooklyn courtroom carrying a Bible. He swayed slightly as he heard his sentence.
The Associated Press is withholding the man's name because disclosing it could identify his accuser. The AP generally does not identify victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly.
The man repeatedly raped his then-stepdaughter in 2003, according to a court complaint. She was only 8 years old at the time and kept the abuse secret from her family for nearly a decade until penning an essay to apply to a Florida religious college, prosecutors said. She'd been asked to write about what made her who she is.
"My home life has always been something interesting," began the 2012 piece, which was aired at the ex-stepfather's recent trial.
The former stepdaughter wasn't in court Monday, but Assistant District Attorney Anna Krutaya read a statement from the woman.
"Getting closure and justice on this horrible situation" has been the best that could come from it," she said in the statement. She added that after testifying, "I felt like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders."
"I feel a lot happier than before," she wrote. "I will not forget what happened, but I will move on from it."
The man declined to speak, but his lawyer, Ernest Hammer, noted that he plans to appeal.
"He denies he committed the crime," Hammer said, calling the case "a difficult matter and a very, very unattractive one."
He said his client has been jailed since his conviction and has endured verbal and physical abuse from fellow inmates and is now being held in protective custody.
The essay also described how the woman's churchgoing childhood was upended after her mother embarked on a marriage that "changed my life forever."
While her ex-stepfather seemed all right at first, "toward the end of the marriage he began to rape me," his accuser wrote.
At the time, "I never told anyone ... at that point in my life, I was scared," she added.
Her mother, by then divorced and remarried, read the essay and called police, prosecutors said.
Hammer has suggested that the mother was trying to get back at her former husband and that the student was bidding for sympathy to get into college.
"It's her best effort to try to get the attention of the admissions committee of that college," Hammer said in closing arguments earlier this month.
A jury convicted his client of rape and other charges.
His former stepdaughter, who had moved to Florida with her mother before writing the essay, rejoiced in her mother's new marriage and recommitted to her faith, according to her essay.
"All I have been through has made me the person I am today," she concluded.
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