A Wayne County man was sentenced to seven years in state prison and 10 years of post-release supervision Thursday in Cortland County Court for assaulting and raping a woman last year in a remote area of Preble.
Donald Allen, 36, had pled guilty to first-degree attempted rape, a violent felony, as part of a plea bargain, said Judge Julie Campbell.
Allen drove a woman known to him to the countryside where he physically and sexually assaulted her, according to the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department. The woman convinced Allen to drive her back to her residence in Preble after the attack and he was arrested at the home without incident after a family member called police, according to Lt. Todd Caufield.
Allen was originally charged with felonies of first-degree rape, second-degree strangulation, and second-degree assault, as well as misdemeanors of second-degree unlawful imprisonment, forcible touching, and fourth-degree criminal mischief.
Campbell noted the plea agreement was desired by all parties involved in the case. “This would spare all sides the stress of going through a jury trial,” she said. She also issued a no-contact order of protection against Allen that will be valid until Dec. 15, 2032.
In a powerful, tear-filled statement addressed to the Court and Allen, the victim described her physical, emotional, mental and financial suffering since the attack.
The woman said her right arm is permanently damaged from the attack. When Allen choked her, she suffered damage to her throat that causes her to choke on food to this day, and she also has permanent bruising under her eyes, she said.
“If I go without makeup anywhere, I’m asked what happened,” she said.
The stress she experienced from the assault has caused her to develop a heart murmur, she said. She suffers from memory issues now, and must write notes to herself and draw pictures of where she is going so she does not get lost, she added. The woman stated she has visited 10 different doctors and started on nine medications to treat her injuries.
Doctors have diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder and massive depression, she said, and she also suffers from panic attacks and night terrors.
Since the attack, she has suffered from suicidal thoughts and attempted to kill herself in August, she said. The woman was admitted to a hospital psychiatric ward and lost custody of her 13- and 14-year-old daughters, she said. Her daughters were present in the courtroom and held hands as they listened to their mother address the court. Another woman in her thirties or forties held the woman’s hand as she talked.
The woman said that before the assault she was an outgoing, single mother who worked up to 50 hours a week. Now, she cannot work due to her injuries. “I lost my home because I couldn’t pay my rent,” she said.
“My children and I are all very fearful,” she said, adding her daughters are scarred by the experience of seeing their mother’s injuries from the brutal attack and witnessing Allen’s arrest in their living room. “I thought I was going to die.”
While she lived, her life has changed irrevocably.
“He killed who I was,” she said. “I don’t know who I am anymore...I desperately want my old life back.”
Campbell said during the proceeding she had “flagged” several items from Allen’s pre-sentencing report as concerning: a criminal history of drug and alcohol related offenses, a prior conviction for choking a woman, a lack of displayed remorse and throwing the victim’s cell phone away during the attack, preventing her from calling for help.
While Allen admitted to the attack in graphic detail, he displayed no emotion during his interview with the probation officer preparing the report, Campbell said. The probation officer called the assault “heinous in nature,” Campbell noted, and suggested Allen’s “potential for lawful behavior appeared poor.”
Assistant District Attorney Christine Ferraro noted Allen said he simply “lost it” when he attacked the victim.
“She had head to toe bruises,” Ferraro said, referring to photographs of the victim taken the day of the attack at Cortland Regional Medical Center. During the attack, Allen repeatedly hit the victim, assaulted her and banged her head off the ground, she said. The attack was a “brutal assault and brutal rape,” Ferraro said.
During recorded jail phone calls, Allen said he was in love with the victim and planned to marry her, according to Ferraro. Ferraro said it was disturbing Allen could attack someone he said he “loved very much.”
Allen also admitted to “quite a bit of drug use” in the recorded jail phone calls, Ferraro said. Allen denied using drugs when speaking with the probation officer preparing the pre-sentencing report, despite previous drug convictions, she said.
Assistant Public Defender Tom Miller said Allen’s attack was an “aberration,” not a pattern of behavior. Allen is a severe alcoholic who needs treatment for his addiction, Miller said. Allen and the victim had been out drinking the night of the attack and celebrating Allen’s birthday, Miller said. “If not for the alcohol, none of this would have happened,” said Miller. “That is Mr. Allen’s downfall.”
Campbell noted several letters to the court were written in Allen’s support by his family and a friend. They describe Allen as a humble, hard-working and family-oriented man, she said, and they emphasize the attack was inconsistent with his character. Allen’s parents were present in the courtroom, as well as an elderly woman, an elderly man and another middle aged man who sat behind the defendant.
Miller argued Allen does regret his actions, but has difficulty displaying his emotions, leading to a false assessment by the probation officer preparing the pre-sentencing report. “I believe he’s absolutely regretful, absolutely remorseful,” Miller said.
When he addressed Campbell, Allen said “...there is not a day goes by I’m not regretful.”
“There is no excuse for what happened that night,” Allen said, adding all he wanted was to love the victim. “I ask for mercy, your honor.”
During her statement, the victim questioned Allen directly, saying, “Why did you do this to me?” Allen did not answer the question during his prepared statement.
“You put me through hell that night and then tried to blame me,” the woman said. “I pray that you don’t ever have the opportunity to put anyone through this.”