She may not have been present in court, but a rape victim’s letter to a Douglas County District Court judge helped put away her attacker for more than 26 years.
“I was beyond scared, beyond terrified. My life has been changed forever,” wrote the victim, who now lives in Florida. “Please don’t allow this nightmare to happen to another innocent person.”
Assistant District Attorney Amy McGowan read the victim’s statement during the sentencing hearing Friday for former Lawrence resident Robert Grey, asking Judge Peggy Kittel to impose the maximum sentence.
A Douglas County jury convicted Grey in May of the 1997 rape.
During the trial, the victim, who was a 20-year-old Kansas University junior at the time, described how Grey kidnapped her at gunpoint from the parking lot of Naismith Hall, drove her to a secluded area near the old tennis courts at Lawrence High School and raped her. Grey could not be charged with aggravated kidnapping because the five-year statute of limitations had run out.
Before the sentencing, Grey’s attorney, Jessica Travis, argued for a new trial, claiming her client was denied his right to a fair trial. Travis went so far as to accuse the state of prosecutorial misconduct, arguing McGowan intentionally withheld information that she was required to turn over to the defense.
Travis’ main complaint had to do with a surprise identification of the defendant by the victim in court during the first day of the trial. The woman had previously never identified Grey in open court.
“There were too many things withheld,” Travis told the judge, “and in the long run, it essentially stripped Mr. Grey of his right to a fair trial.”
But Kittel ruled the evidence in the case was overwhelming and any changes would not have affected the outcome of the trial.
Travis also filed a motion seeking a departure from the standard sentence. While Grey was charged in 2007, he was sentenced under the guidelines that were in place in 1997, when the crime occurred. But Travis argued that the Legislature changed the sentencing guidelines in 1999, which would have reduced the amount of time her client spent in prison. Travis also wanted the judge to use her client’s criminal history from 1997 when determining his sentence, instead of the additional crimes he was convicted of during the 10 years it took the case to go to trial.
Kittel denied the departure motion and sentenced Grey to 316 months in prison, followed by three years of supervision upon his release.
Grey did not speak at the hearing. His family members sobbed as the sentence was announced.
As for the victim, she wrote in her victim impact statement that her recovery is still an ongoing process, something she equated to a scar.
“Time heals all wounds,” she wrote, “but a scar never goes away.”