The victim, who is now 17 and in treatment for depression, was raped repeatedly by former Elburn police officer David Wright over the course of a decade, but she faced accusations in court that she made up her charges out of ‘loneliness’ or ‘sadness.’
ELBURN, Illinois — A former police officer pleaded guilty to rape after listening to 20 minutes of his victim’s testimony in court.
In November 2005, David Wright first raped the victim in the bathroom at a birthday party she was attending. She was just seven years old. He continued to rape and sexually harass her over the course of the next decade.
On Aug. 16, Wright was sentenced to 23 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of criminal sexual assault.
Under the terms of Wright’s plea agreement, he gets credit for 478 days served in the county jail, but he must serve 85 percent of his sentence, or about 19 and a half years, in prison.
“During opening statements … prosecutors recalled the first time Wright raped the girl — when she was 7 and in a bathroom at a birthday party — he warned her by saying, ‘This is gonna hurt,’” reported Harry Hitzeman, a senior writer at the Daily Herald, on Aug. 16.
According to the Herald, Judge D.J. Tegeler accepted Wright’s plea but expressed his anger that Wright forced his victim to testify before admitting his guilt.
“You have not done anything but ruin her,” Tegeler told Wright. “For you to make her take the witness stand at all, I find reprehensible.”
Addressing the charges against Wright, which included 33 felonies, with a combined minimum prison term of 143 years and a maximum of 648 years, the judge declared, “Quite frankly, I think 500 years sounds reasonable.”
Wright was arrested in April 2015 after the victim came forward while undergoing treatment for depression — a condition that was used as an attempt to discredit her in court. On Aug. 15, the day the trial opened, Hitzeman reported that Ron Dolak, Wright’s public defender, argued: “The origins of these allegations come from depression, they come from loneliness, they come from sadness.”
Wright’s plea agreement includes a restriction on appealing the case, which the judge said will prevent the victim from having to relive her experiences in court again.
Police are frequently accused of rape or sexual assault, and their families also suffer from high rates of domestic violence. In November, The Associated Press reported that between 2009 and 2014, about 1,000 police officers lost their licenses due to acts of rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment.
The AP investigation was inspired by the high profile case of Daniel Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City police officer who was convicted of five counts of rape and 13 counts of sexual assault in December.
However, the number of victims could be much higher than the AP reported. Rape remains a chronically underreported crime, in part because victims fear mistreatment by the police and U.S. justice system.
Unfortunately, recent history shows these fears are all too often justified. In April 2012, a 17-year-old rape victim from Sacramento, California, was briefly imprisoned for refusing to testify against Frank William Rackley, who was believed to be a serial rapist.
And in July of this year, a Houston-area rape victim filed a lawsuit against the prosecutor who sent her to jail for a month after she “broke down during questioning and ran from the courtroom, screaming that she’d never return,” according to New York Magazine’s The Cut. Although she suffered from bipolar disorder, the victim was placed in the jail’s general population, where she claims she was physically abused.