Friday, May 30, 2008

Repeat offender convicted on rape and kidnapping in NJ - paroled from VA on same charges

After a jury found a Lakewood, NJ man guilty of an abduction which occurred back in 2004, Executive Assistant State’s Attorney Ocean County Prosecutor Michel A. Paulhus filed papers seeking a life sentence based on the rapist’s prior record.

James L. Calhoun’s trial in the courtroom of Superior Court Wendel E. Daniels began on May 14, and continued until 3:30 PM Tuesday, when after two days of deliberation, a jury returned a guilty verdict on multiple counts. Calhoun commited the crimes while absconding from Virginia parole supervision for the same crimes - kidnapping and sex assault.

The jury found Calhoun, 30, of Lakewood, NJ was found guilty carjacking, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary, robbery and sexual assault. The panel, however, acquitted Calhoun of possessing a knife for an unlawful purpose and unlawfully possessing the knife.
Calhoun was on parole in Virginia from a 10-year prison term imposed in 2002 for sexual battery and abduction, according to the court papers. Calhoun also has prior convictions in New Jersey for burglary and theft.

The victim in the Lakewood case testified at trial that Calhoun abducted her at knifepoint from the Seagull Square shopping plaza on Route 9 in Lakewood on Oct. 3, 2004. He forced her into her car and drove to Vine Street in Lakewood, where he repeatedly raped her, she said. Then, he drove to a series of three ATMs, where he forced her to tell him her personal identification number so that he could withdraw $700 from her accounts, she said.

The victim also testified Calhoun drove around Lakewood and South Toms River to buy marijuana and other drugs. She said she smoked marijuana with him in hopes of gaining his trust and her eventual release.

Defense attorney Paul Zager contended that the victim had consensual sex with Calhoun, although prosecutor’s Investigator Kenneth Hess testified that Calhoun confessed to the rape.

In the confession, Calhoun told Hess he placed a knife to a woman’s throat at the shopping plaza, forced her into the back seat of her car, drove her around, tied her up with socks and raped her. After that, he demanded the victim’s ATM card and drove to several cash machines to withdraw money he later used to buy marijuana, heroin and cocaine.

After almost five hours of holding the woman captive, Calhoun apologized to her and told her to drop him off, according to Hess. Another state witness, Sgt. Eugene Thatcher of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, testified at the trial that Calhoun’s fingerprint was recovered from inside the victim’s car.

Calhoun will undergo a pre sentencing sex offender evaluation at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenal, NJ to determine if his sex offending is repetitive and compulsive.

Because Calhoun is a repeat offender, he faces life in prison on either the carjacking or sexual assault charge, and Paulhaus intends to seek such a sentence. If the judge does not sentence him to life, he faces 10 to 20 years in prison for each offense. For the other crimes, Calhoun faces 5 to 10 years.

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