Domestic violence can include marital rape

Even in the 21st century, marital rape is not treated as seriously by some as rape by a stranger. A woman whose ex-husband was found guilty of raping her says she felt like she'd been "sucker punched in the gut" when a judge recently handed down a sentence of home detention for eight years and a suspended sentence of 12 years.

The couple divorced in 2009 after 12 years of marriage. That was the year after she says she found videos on his phone of the two engaged in sex, but she says she recalls none of those encounters. She contended that she was either asleep or drugged. She says that on one occasion she woke up to find a pill in her mouth. She made a copy of the videos but didn't take them to police until 2011.

The woman's ex-husband was convicted of five counts of criminal deviate conduct and one count of rape. Prosecutors asked that the 52-year-old man be sentenced to 40 years in prison -- a reasonable, if not minimal, sentence since under sentencing guidelines, he could face anywhere from six to 20 years behind bars for each count. He spent 24 days in prison after he was arrested but may never see another day behind bars for his actions. He has lost visitation rights to the couple's two children.

The woman spoke out after the sentencing, saying that she received "zero justice." She said, "I was told that I needed to forgive my attacker and move on." Instead, she says she plans to help other rape survivors and to "be strong for other women."

The defendant, who reportedly plans to appeal the conviction, had no prior felonies on his record. However, he had previously been convicted of driving while intoxicated, public indecency and battery. All of those crimes are misdemeanors.

Women and men in Arizona who have been the victims of rape or any type of domestic violence should not be dissuaded from reporting the crime to authorities because some defendants are given only minimal sentences. Sentencing decisions by judges can be arbitrary. Not everyone gets the justice he or she deserves. However, just by holding their attacker accountable in court, victims of sexual abuse and assault are making a difference and perhaps saving others from assault or worse.

Source: KTAR The Voice of Arizona, "Woman says ex-husband's rape sentence not justice" No author given, May. 20, 2014

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