A brain-damaged homeless man could serve either four more months or up to five years in prison based on a sentence Friday for a rape that occurred in broad daylight on a Saturday last May in Riverfront Park.
Terry L. Thomas, 54, earlier pleaded guilty to third-degree rape in connection to the incident that occurred May 23. He was sentenced Friday to 15 months in prison and given credit for 11 months already served.
Bystanders told Riverfront Park security staff they saw two people having sex in some bushes close to the playground near the former YMCA building.
The 27-year-old woman and Thomas both had been drinking whiskey, according to court testimony.
Witnesses told police they saw the woman push Thomas away and try to collect herself, but Thomas continued to pull off her clothes.
“We believe … this started as a consensual act,” defense attorney Al Rossi told Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno. “They met on the bus. They both had been drinking. They both were going to the park. Mr. Thomas doesn’t remember a lot after he got off the bus.
“Mr. Thomas, unfortunately, was not in a situation where he understood ‘no’ … as a result of his level of intoxication.”
Rossi said Thomas, who has a previous sex crime conviction in Oregon, fell in 1993 and severely damaged his brain. Since then, he has had trouble finding words, has been homeless and sometimes has trouble controlling his impulses, Rossi said.
Deputy Prosecutor John Love said the sentence could be as much as five years in prison because after Thomas serves the additional four months, the case will go before the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board, which could impose the higher sentence.
Thomas told Moreno that he remembered meeting the woman and sharing two pints of whiskey.
“I do not remember any of this after we got off the bus,” Thomas said.