A Lewiston man who reportedly raped an unconscious woman and posted a video of the incident online was sentenced Thursday to five years of probation.
Frank C. Cunningham, 34, pleaded guilty to video voyeurism. Charges of rape and sexual penetration by an object with use of force while the victim is unconscious were dismissed pursuant to a plea agreement. Cunningham was granted a withheld judgment – if he completes probation the charge could be dismissed.
The victim reportedly found a clip from the video Cunningham recorded on his cellphone and contacted police last January. Cunningham uploaded the 48-second clip to a pornographic website, and investigators were able to identify the woman as depicted in the video.
The victim reported she was drugged and does not remember the incident.
Investigators identified Cunningham in the video from distinctive tattoos. He had posted 34 videos using a profile that noted his age and location in Lewiston. The videos had cumulatively been viewed nearly 3.9 million times.
Investigators noted in several of the videos Cunningham posted the victim appeared to be unconscious. There were also videos in which the woman was conscious and participating in intercourse. The woman said she was unaware of the other videos posted online.
Cunningham reportedly found out about the investigation and deleted the videos and his profile from the website.
Nez Perce County 2nd District Judge Jeff Brudie initially rejected a binding plea agreement that would grant Cunningham a withheld judgment and five years of probation. A presentence investigation showed Cunningham to be a moderate risk to reoffend. Both defense and prosecution attorneys recommended probation.
Brudie told Cunningham prior to sentencing him to probation that his comments to a presentence investigator did not appear to show remorse over the incident.
“I have an obligation beyond just this single case; I have a message to send to society in general,” Brudie said. “Sex with (the victim) without her consent or permission and then publishing on internet, that’s a line that when crossed really concerns me since if it’s on the internet it exists there forever.”
Cunningham apologized for the incident and said the reason he wasn’t expressive with a presentence investigator was that he felt uncomfortable describing the crime to a stranger.
“I didn’t know how to bare my soul for the situation, and I apologize for that,” he said.
Brudie said he was persuaded to go along with the plea agreement after the victim spoke to Brudie and asked him to sentence Cunningham to probation. Brudie said the conduct called for severe punishment, but he went along with the recommendation for the sake of the victim.
“You’re gonna need to be perfect on probation,” Brudie said. “If you ever come back I will not be constrained by the (agreement).”
If Cunningham is unsuccessful on probation Brudie could impose a prison term of up to five years.
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