Vic­tims con­front rapist at hear­ing

Michael Priv­ette to serve 40 years in prison for as­saults on four women

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Justin Fen­ton jfen­ton@balt­

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

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