Marilee (crushdmb) wrote in ontd_political,

I suggest you sit down for this one, if you aren't already

Jury finds man guilty of raping prostitutes

Sounds great, right? Justice was served! Wait 'til you read the defense attorney's arguments. I started to bold them, but there were too many. Just read. And rage.

A jury found Thomas H. Gravely, 31, of East Bank guilty of sexually assaulting Charleston prostitutes, despite a graphic argument by his defense attorney that women willing to sell themselves for sex cannot be raped.

The father of five children and midget football coach did not testify. But jurors watched a taped interview in which he confessed to picking up at least 15-20 prostitutes and holding a knife to their throats or choking them while he had sex with them.

The courtroom was filled with Gravely's family and friends. At least a dozen members of a midget football team -- the Twin City Miners of Marmet -- sat in the hallway just outside the courtroom doors for the entire two days of his trial.

A bailiff decided the youngsters, dressed in matching orange shirts and socks, would not be allowed inside.

A grand jury indicted Gravely last September of multiple counts of first- and second-degree sexual assault. After the guilty verdict was returned, he was taken into custody to await sentencing at a later date.

Jurors found him guilty of five counts of sexual assault on three prostitutes in 2007 and 2008. Those women said Gravely threatened to kill them as he attacked them.

Ed ReBrook, Gravely's defense attorney, called no witnesses. But he summed up his case in a dramatic closing argument to jurors during which he called the victims "tramps" and "whores."

"You cannot rape the willing," ReBrook said. "They got in those automobiles with the intention of having sex for money.

"I would be horrified if any of the women in my life were raped, but I'm talking about decent, honorable women," ReBrook said, and then dramatically raised his voice. "Not whores who have sex with many, many men for money."

Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach immediately asked Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman to stop ReBrook, but he did not.

"They are whores," ReBrook persisted. "That is a perfectly usable word in the English language.

"Finding this man guilty of rape lessens the dignity of every other woman," ReBrook said. "What they have done is turn sex into something disgusting.

"They are not like your wife, your girlfriend or your daughter," he said. "They are street tramps. And what happened to them was, at least in part, their fault.

"If stupidity was a crime, my client would be a three-time loser," ReBrook told the jury. "He may be guilty of assault, but he is not guilty of sexual assault."

ReBrook said the testimony of the three prostitutes, who told in graphic detail how they made their living and how Gravely held a knife to their throats or choked them and forced them to perform various sexual acts, shocked and disgusted him.

One woman, a 32-year-old who said she had an eighth-grade education, had been a prostitute since she was 14 and had a $3,000-a-day drug habit. She was the last witness on Tuesday before jurors began deliberating.

She told the jury that Gravely picked her up about 4:30 a.m. in May 2007 at the corner of Washington and Bream Streets on the West Side.

"He showed me the money," she said. "He said what he wanted. He was a good-looking guy."

She said she noticed two child car seats in the vehicle. He drove her to the parking lot at SportMart and then pulled out a knife and held it to her throat while they had sex.

"He told me if I would be good I wouldn't get hurt," she said.

"You don't know them," she said of the 20 or so men she would go with each night. "It's scary. You don't know if the next car you get in you'll have to jump out of."

None of the women, some of whom said they are no longer prostitutes, minced words while on the witness stand. Using graphic sexual language, they told of lives full of despair, addiction and sadness.

Giggenbach said the law protects them from violent crime just as it protects everyone else.

"That's a wolf right there," Giggenbach said, standing before Gravely and pointing. "A wolf who attacks the weak, the uneducated and the socially crippled, because he knows they are not going to go to the hospital or the police.

"He's a serial rapist, 15 or 20 times in our community," Giggenbach said. "Lurking, stalking, waiting for the weak to come out at night.

"You find him not guilty and you tell this man, 'You go right ahead, anybody in this community can do that,'<#148> Giggenbach told jurors.

"Did they agree to go with him?" he asked. "Yes. If he had shown them the switchblade at the beginning? Heck, no."

The prosecution also played for jurors a videotaped interview at the police station in which Gravely admitted to attacking 20 or more prostitutes while using a knife.
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