A New York City man who was found guilty of raping his former stepdaughter after she accused him in her college application essay has been sentenced to 18 years in prison, the Associated Press reports.
Prosecutors say the 62-year-old man raped his then-8-year-old stepdaughter in 2003. She never told her family, but years later revealed the allegation in her 2012 college application essay. There is no time limit on the statute of limitations for rape in New York City.
The victim was writing in response to a question about "what made her who she is."
Her essay recounted how her "churchgoing childhood" was disrupted by her mother's marriage, which "changed my life forever." She said that although her ex-stepfather seemed fine at first, "toward the end of the marriage he began to rape me."
"I never told anyone," she wrote. "At that point in my life, I was scared."
Her mother, who had since divorced the man and married someone else, read the application essay in 2012 and called the police.
The names of the man and stepdaughter have not been revealed.
The accused man denies his ex-stepdaughter's allegations. His lawyer, Ernes Hammer, says the essay is just a bid for college admissions officers' sympathy. Hammer also said that the mother was "trying to get back at her former spouse," the Associated Press reported.
The jury and judge saw the situation in a different light, convicting the man of rape and sentencing him to 18 years.
"Getting closure and justice on this horrible situation is the best thing I could have gotten from this experience," the victim wrote in a statement after testifying.
"I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders... I feel a lot happier than before. I will not forget what happened, but I will move on from it."
When she wrote the essay nine years after the rape, the victim and her mother had moved to Florida. The victim wrote that she had "rejoiced in her mother's new marriage and recommitted to her faith."
"All I have been through has made me the person I am today."