A Lawrence man received a 22-year prison sentence Thursday for beating, choking and raping a woman after they met at a downtown night spot. It was a crime some police have called the most brutal rape they've ever seen.
The victim stood in court and called her attacker, Patrick C. Neal, a "horrible monster" and a "pathetic predator."
Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone said it was the kind of rape that made people cringe. He sentenced Neal, 20, to 267 months in prison for rape and 12 months for aggravated battery.
The victim, who was 28 at the time of the June 6, 2003, rape, testified that she met Neal at the former restaurant and bar, La Tasca, 943 Mass., and agreed to give him a ride home in the pouring rain. He convinced her to get out of the car and to give her a hug. He then carried her to a secluded area and punched, choked and raped her.
Neal maintains he is not guilty of rape but has acknowledged "that the physical handling that happened was not appropriate," his attorney, Martin Miller, said Thursday.
That claim puzzles prosecutor Angela Wilson.
"The defendant still appears to not understand the very fundamental nature of the crime he committed," she said. "He's not taking responsibility, and he deserves no mercy at this time."
Malone said it saddened him to read letters from the victim's parents and Neal's mother, who described having a bad life and not being there for her son when he needed her. But Malone found there weren't any compelling reasons to give Neal a lesser sentence than set forth in sentencing guidelines.
Neal has a prior conviction in Johnson County for aggravated battery of a 14-year-old girl and has a pending criminal case in Colorado, Wilson said.