Saturday, July 3, 2010

Craigslist rapists get 60 to life - ad seeking someone with "no regard for women" led to rape

Both men involved in the rape of a woman after a Craigslist ad was placed to solicit it were sentenced to 60 years to life in the Wyoming prison system. Natrona County District Judge David Park sentenced both Jebidiah James Stipe, now 28, and 26 year old Ty Oliver McDowell to 60 years to life for their role in the brutal attack, an attack which left the victim, a woman Stipe once dated, traumatized.

Stipe plead guilty to 5 felonies including conspiracy to commit sexual assault. McDowell also plead guilty to 5 felonies, including 3 counts of 1st degree sexual assault. Stipe's sentencing was held Monday, June 28 and McDowell's sentenced was handed down Tuesday, June 29. The ad solicited the rape of a woman seeking a "real aggressive man with no concerns for women well being interested let me know."

Stipe, a 28-year-old Carbon County native, paid for the ad that led McDowell to a 25-year-old woman's west Casper residence and impersonated the woman in online communications with McDowell. The ad appeared on Dec. 5, reading, in part, "Need a real aggressive man with no concerns for women well being interested let me know," according to an affidavit from the case.

Less than a week later [On December 11, 2009], McDowell showed up at the victim's west Casper residence. Once inside, the victim -- weighing less than 100 pounds -- struggled to fight, biting and scratching McDowell. Unable to escape, she was raped by a penis and a knife sharpener found in the home after the assault. Her wrists were bound so tightly together a nurse later thought they were broken. Then she was raped and left naked and tied in her living room, bruised from head to toe. An investigation by the Natrona County Sheriff's Office revealed Ty Oliver McDowell, who carried out the rape, was led to the 25-year-old victim's Casper home after responding the bogus Craigslist ad Stipe posted.

During the sentencing, the victim said that "It's very hard for me to trust people and not question what their intentions are.[Stipe] turned my world upside-down. I don't understand why someone would do something as violent and as vicious as he did." Sgt. Michael Steinberg testified that Stipe had requested that similar things happen to other women, including his ex-wife. The ex-wife, according to Steinberg, had to change vehicles and move back into her parents' house.

George Doherty, a witness presented by Stipe's defense attorney Vaughn Neubauer, said that he believed Stipe, an ex-Marine who served in Iraq, suffered from PTSD. Neubauer said that "Something happened inside Mr. Stipe. Something happened. But that something can be addressed, he can be salvaged."

District Attorney Michael Blonigen showed how the rape was planned and that Stipe had a change to back out of the devious (and deviant) scheme, but did not. "This defendant had every opportunity in the world to stop this. Mr. Stipe could have pulled back. Instead, he pushed the throttle forward."

After Stipe's sentencing, Blonigen said that the Craigslist rape was the worst he had seen over his 27 years as a prosecutor. "We were satisfied with the sentence. Sixty years to life for a 28-year-old man is virtually a life sentence. I really think that it's because of the courage of the victim that we're here today."

Ty Oliver McDowell was a technician for a hospital who lived in Bar Nunn, Wyoming when he raped the woman. Just before his 60 year to life sentence, he addressed Judge Park, the victim, and Stipe. "I am terribly sorry that (she) had to go through this nightmare. I'm sorry that I put her through it...I forgive [Stipe]for tricking me and deceiving me into doing this."

After McDowell made his statement, the victim went to the front of the court and addressed how the rape impacted her life. "This is something I will never get over. My family have been the ones to pick up the pieces of something he tore apart for something he thought was a game."
Toward the end of her statement, choked with tears, she said, "I'm sorry." "That's all right," Natrona County District Judge David Park told her. "You don't need to apologize."
District Attorney Michael Blonigen, speaking at McDowell's sentencing Tuesday, said if someone is going to solicit a rape, "He has to find a rapist...I don't see a dime's worth of difference between the two," he said of McDowell and Stipe.

The prosecutor argued that McDowell's act were premeditated. He took pictures of the victim's home with his cellular telephone; communicated with Stipe in the days leading up to the rape; on another occasion checked the home's front and back door, finding them locked; and, on the day he committed the rape, carried with him a blindfold and rope to bind the victim's hands.

Blonigen said that McDowell's actions were that of someone who had not accepted accountability for his actions. "I do not see how any rational person can insist -- like Mr. McDowell continues to insist -- that this was a terrible misunderstanding. He has taken the charge, but he has not taken responsibility."
Both McDowell's attorney Tim Cotton and McDowell's parents described a man who was raised with good morals and to shun alcohol and drugs, but had "really began to lose touch." Cotton asked for a sentenced of 20 years, stating that it would allow his client to rehabilitate himself eventually while also "satisfying the demands of justice."
After McDowell's sentencing Blonigen stated that while Craigslist cooperated throughout the investigation, "I would like them to not take those sort of ads. But, as someone else has said, if they don't, someone else will. It boils down to personal (responsibility)."
He also reiterated that both Stipe and McDowell earned the identical 60 to life sentences and shared equal accountability. "Either one of these people could have stopped it at any time. The only person who couldn't have stopped it is [the victim]."

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