A serial rapist convicted of forcing couples in New Jersey motels to have sex in front of him at gunpoint, and then locking the men in the bathroom while he raped the women, was sentenced to 144 years in prison on Thursday.
Rasheed Powell, 43, was convicted in March of 60 counts related to a string of sex crimes, including 24 counts of aggravated sexual assault, according to the Courier News in Somerville. He forced his way into motel rooms in Elizabeth and Linden, New Jersey, during a six-week period beginning in March 2012. He would make the couples perform sex acts on each other and then lock the men up so he could rape the women.
"I hope you don't have the option to see daylight again," one of the victims said in court. She also said she hopes the sentence will make him cry as much as the people he's hurt.
The woman was one of eight victims—four women and four men. She said his attack transformed her from a social, outgoing person to one filled with fear.
Another woman read a letter in court that said Powell's assault took away her feelings of dignity and self-worth. She turned to self mutilation to cope and she suffers from panic attacks and nightmares, she said. Powell told her that he'd kill her and her family if she ever told anyone what happened.
"I'm standing up today. I won't allow what you have done to control me," she said. "You made your bed, now lie in it."
While they were being assaulted, Powell would make the women compliment him and yell loud enough for the men in the bathroom to hear, according to the North Jersey Record.
Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch said Powell's offenses were an "incomprehensible hell," the Record reports, and that his "reign of terror ends here, now."
There was numerous pieces of evidence against Powell—his DNA was extracted from a rape kit, five of the victims identified him, police found the handgun he used, and his girlfriend gave them the mask and black jacket he wore during the crimes.
Powell was arrested on April 16, 2012 after he responded to a traffic summons at the Springfield Municipal Court.
“I’ve always been told that the world is unfair. But I don’t believe that. It is monsters like you who taint the world and make it unfair,” one of the victims said during the sentencing, according to the North Jersey Record. “You robbed me of my innocence … but today I can look at you without being afraid.”
[Photo: New Jersey Department of Corrections]