Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Husband who emotionally abused wife for 27 years gets 8 years for rape

An Illinois man was sentenced to prison for raping his then wife August of 2007 on November 7. Because of the lack of prior criminal history, his 8 year sentence was significantly lower than the victim's desire for a 15 year sentence.

On Sept. 17 in La Salle County Circuit Court, a jury found the 52-year-old Michael Karns guilty of one count of sexual assault, but not guilty of two other counts. Karns will get credit for time spent in the county jail since his conviction, but must otherwise serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, meaning a little more than three years.

The rape occurred Aug. 2, 2007, at the Karns' rural Sheridan house. Karns' wife filed for divorce a few days after, with the divorce finalized Sept. 25. Karns had been a heavy equipment operator for a company in Naperville and had a heart attack a few months after he was charged.
Prosecutor Matt Kidder wanted a sentence of eight years in prison. The minimum sentence permitted by law is four years in prison and the maximum is 15 years; probation was not an option.

In arguing for eight years, Kidder said Karns lied when he took the witness stand at trial as his testimony was at odds with an incriminating phone conversation Karns had with his wife that sheriff's office investigators had recorded with the wife's cooperation.

Kidder further said Karns' wife suffered physical and emotional pain from the assault, with Karns "betraying the sanctuary of their marriage and home," by violating the trust his wife had placed in him as her husband.

Kidder said that the wife wanted the maximum sentence, 15 years for the class 1 felony, but due to the lack of prior criminal history, acknowledged that the maximum sentence was not realistic. "We can more readily accept a stranger doing this than a husband."

Fred Morelli, Karns’ attorney, used the lack of criminal history and the work history he had before the rape to argue for the minimum 4 year sentence.

Morelli also brought up discrepancies between the phone conversation and Karns’ testimony suggesting that he tried to make up with his then wife, summing the assault as “an total aberration.”

Karns, when he testified, asked for forgiveness not just from his victim, but the two sons they had together. "I hope the healing process will be a quick one for, first my ex-wife and then my family."

Judge Raccuglia stated that during the 27 year marriage, that Karns controlled his victim without physical abuse. Raccuglia believed that the victim wanted the maximum sentence for the years of control as well as the rape, but that she could not do that. "I can't punish Mr. Karns for the years he kept his wife a prisoner."

It has a name – emotional/mental abuse. There does not have to be sexual or physical assault to have a victim and a perpetrator.

Raccuglia also took note Karns had no prior run-ins with the law, except for a few traffic tickets -- a rare occurrence for a person convicted of such a serious offense as is Karns. She added she doubted Karns would again commit a sex assault and he probably didn't believe he did anything wrong.

Believing that you did not do anything wrong is usually an aggravating factor since this is a sign of arrogance and entitlement.

Judge Raccuglia made this curious statement about the perp's "love" for his victim.

"He loved her to the point of detriment to himself and his family." Nope, that’s not love – that’s obsession, power and control disguised as love.

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