Before serial rapist Ryan Craig Stevens was sentenced to 32 years to life in prison Friday in Santa Maria, a prior victim told the 51-year-old Santa Barbara man that he stole her innocence and her childhood.
“What kind of person rapes a child?” Jane Doe No. 4 asked in a victim impact statement read by Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian. “You are what nightmares are made of and still plague mine to this day.”
Stevens, who had been imprisoned for prior rapes of underage girls, was found guilty of attempted rape of a 15-year-old girl in September 2013 in downtown Santa Barbara. At the time, he was a transient and a registered sex offender.
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge John McGregor sentenced Stevens to 25 years to life in state prison, which will follow the seven years for his previous convictions. He received credit for more than 1,100 days served.
McGregor also assessed $20,000 in restitution fines and required Stevens to provide a DNA sample.
The rape victim in the current case declined to make a statement, but one of his prior victims submitted a letter.
“What he did to me, all of those years ago affects me to my core being,” Karapetian read from the letter. “He took my innocence, my childhood, and what makes it even worse is knowing that he isn’t even remorseful because he went out and did it again to another underage girl three years ago.”
In addition to the victim from the 2013 attack, the most recent trial included testimony from two earlier victims, although there reportedly are three additional victims linked to Stevens.
Jane Doe No. 4 wrote tha ther life changed drastically since the attack.
“I don’t even feel safe in my own home and my own skin,” she wrote. “All of these years later, I still see your face in crowds and on the street.
“Today my wish is the law takes care of you the way you need to be dealt with so I never have to see your disgusting face ever again.”
The attack took away her self worth, privacy, energy, safety, intimacy, confidence and her own voice — until Friday.
“I want you to hear these words over and over,” she wrote. “You, Ryan Craig Stevens, will have to face a more powerful person one day but until then may you never never see the light of day for all of the pain you have caused to me, my family and all of the other girls left lying in your wake.”
The hearing started with a discussion about motions to dismiss the newest conviction, with defense attorney Adrian Galvan of Santa Maria-based Galvan & Cornelius LLP arguing the trial testimony did not support an indication that Stevens intended to rape the girl.
Galvan also sought to have three or four prior strikes dismissed.
McGregor denied the defense motion for a new trial, saying “the record is replete with evidence of planning or grooming activities engaged in by the defendant.”
“The specific intent has been amply shown by the evidence of his consistent conduct with underage women and alcohol, creating the circumstances where he is alone with the young women under the influence of alcohol …,” he said, adding that sufficient evidence exists to support the guilty verdict.
In considering whether to remove the prior strikes, McGregor also said he assessed the nature of the latest crime with the previous convictions and determined the circumstances were similar: underage or young women, intoxicated, isolated and then sexually assaulted.
“For the court to strike the prior strikes, the court would have to find the defendant was a person who was outside the spirit of the three-strikes law, where in fact the court finds the defendant is exactly within the ambit of the three-strikes law and its purposes,” McGregor said in denying the motion.
In a rambling, 13-minute statement to the court, Stevens denied involvement in the latest attack and lashed out at the justice system, police officers, the prosecutor, the judge and the victim about what he contends were blatant untruths, even referencing a recent motorcycle crash of McGregor.
“At the start of his trial God knocked you off your motorcycle,” Stevens told the judge. “It was warning. You should heed it.”
Stevens blamed his childhood, claiming he was conceived in a moment of violence when his father raped his mother. He also claimed he was sexually assaulted as a child when an older girl “climbed on top of me and didn’t get off me for four years.”
“I was bitten and that was the death of my innocence,” he said. “That night I knew that evil existed, not in the abstract but in the flesh.
“When I was touched I was contaminated by that contact, and since then I have had this thing inside of me that won’t let go.”