'Worst Thing' I've Ever Gone Through - NBC 7 San Diego

'Worst Thing' I've Ever Gone Through



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    A judge said on Friday that he was awed by a rapist's victims, who confronted their attacker in a San Diego Superior Court.

    In March, Stephen Darien Richardson, 34, pleaded guilty to five counts of rape. On Friday, Judge Kerry Wells sentenced the former sailor to 75 years in prison.

    "The actions of Mr. Richardson changed the course of my life," one of the victims said..

    "Stephen Richardson almost killed me, and the assault was the worst thing I've ever gone through in my life," another woman said. "Perhaps Stephen Richardson will come to realize how devastating his actions were."

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    Wells acknowleged the victims' courage in court on Friday.

    "What happened to each of you is every woman's nightmare," Wells said. "You all suffered an unimaginable trauma. You all fought to survive in your own way. I'm in awe of that."

    The series of attacks attributed to the so-called A.M. Rapist took place in the wee hours of the morning. Richardson's victims were all asleep in their beds when he attacked them over a three-year spree in multiple states. The local victims lived in Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and the College area when the five local incidents occured between June 2000 and February 2001. Richardson left the area to return to his home in Illinois, where, prosecutors said, he commited another rape in 2003.

    Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth McClutchey called Richardson a "wolf in sheep's clothing" because the sex predator appeared to the outside world to be a family man and an upstanding member of the military. Her assessment was seconded by Richardson's wife, who said in a statement submitted to the court that she had been "lied to, deceived and betrayed."

    "I did not know what my actions caused," Richardson told the court on Friday. "I had no idea."

    Investigators broke the case in July 2009 when they matched a fingerprint from one of the San Diego crimes scenes to Richardson.