Victims confront rapist at hearing
Michael Privette to serve 40 years in prison for assaults on four women
The woman walked slowly to the witness box, a piece of paper folded in her hands. The man who raped her and three other women was sitting 15 feet from her, waiting to be sentenced. It was her turn to address him.
She unfolded the note, then put it down. She turned and addressed Michael Privette directly.
“My scars have healed, but I still see bruises,” the woman, a 27-year-old geriatric nurse, told him. “I’ll be living with this for the rest of my life.”
Privette, 23, sat with his hands on the table in front of him, listening intently to two of the women he attacked and the father of another.
When it was Privette’s turn to speak, he said the people in the courtroom couldn’t understand what had caused him to be the way he was. He wasn’t sure himself, he said. “There’s not too many things I’m scared of,” Privette said. “One thing I’m scared of is myself.”
Privette, who pleaded guilty to the four sexual assaults, was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison, with all but 40 years suspended. He is to serve 40 years and then be released as a sex offender, with a life sentence hanging over him if he reoffends.
Circuit Judge Wanda Heard told Privette he was a “sexual predator of the worst kind.”
“You’re right,” Heard boomed from the bench. “You need to figure out why you do the things you do, because you are a plague on our society. We need to figure out how to stop you, and to get it right.”
The sentence was 10 years less than prosecutors had sought, Assistant State’s Attorney Trey Perkins said in court.
State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, who has pushed for legislation that would help prosecute rape suspects linked to multiple attacks, attended the sentencing, as did City Councilman Eric Costello and nine members of the Mount Royal Improvement Association.
The association president said an attack in their neighborhood had created a “climate of fear.”
Police used DNA to tie Privette to the attacks. He was arrested in September 2015.
Two of the sexual assaults occurred in the summer of 2013, and the other two were reported in August 2015. Police say Privette was in jail for much of the intervening period.
Police say crime lab technicians linked DNA from two cases to an unknown man, developed Privette as a suspect and obtained his DNA through a search-and-seizure warrant.
One of the four women was jogging in Bolton Hill in August 2015 when she was attacked and pulled into Privette’s vehicle.
The woman, a medical student, took the stand first at the hearing Wednesday. She said her rape had forever altered her sense of security.
She said Privette put his arms around her and told her to do the same, so onlookers would think they were a couple.
“Do you remember me crying?” she asked him. “Do you remember me saying I’d give you all the money I had if you would just let me go?”
She said she saw an infant’s car seat in the back of his vehicle and thought “a father of a young child would never hurt anyone.”
In the months since the attack, she said, she has made herself throw up and wanted to peel her skin off her body.
Privette damaged “my pride, my safety, my potential,” she said. She described being fearful for those close to her, and now sticking to safe, comfortable routines.
The Baltimore Sun does not identify victims of sexual assault.
The nurse spoke next. She said Privette should have been sentenced to more than 40 years.
She said he took $7.80 from her before ordering her at knifepoint from a bus stop and to the rear of the block, where he sexually assaulted her. She said she can’t forget the smell on his breath or his cologne or the clothes he was wearing.
“Forty years, to me, is not enough,” she said. “It’s not just me — it’s four of us.”
The third to speak was the father of a 17-year-old girl whom Privette grabbed from a West Baltimore bus stop.
“I want you to see me, and let you know she has a father,” he said.
The man said he has suffered guilt for not being able to protect his daughter from Privette. But he also said his daughter “will overcome this.” He said she has graduated from school and someday will marry a man who will love her and protect her.
Privette made eye contact with each person who spoke.
His defense attorney moved into evidence the report of a psychiatrist who said Privette had endured abuse throughout his life, and which found Privette was “highly likely to reoffend.”
Privette told the psychiatrist his father tried to kill him when he was born, a claim backed up by a sister also interviewed by the psychiatrist.
“He said I have the devil in me,” Privette told the psychiatrist.
He described being locked in a bedroom with no food, and being sexually assaulted by a male relative. When he told his mother, he said, she beat him.
In court Wednesday, Privette said that whatever was inside him “came from God.” But he also expressed remorse, and said he thought regularly about what was wrong with him and what he had done.
Judge Heard said Privette had taken from the women “something so valuable.”
“But they have the ability to get it back. Because it’s theirs,” Heard said. “I heard from strong women [during the sentencing hearing]. They’re going to go on to wonderful things, and leave you to rot in a cell.”
“My scars have healed, but I still see bruises.” 27-year-old rape victim