Here’s the open line. And also, from Daily Beast an extensive account of a plea bargain reported last week in the case of a massage therapist originally accused of rape who pleaded guilty In Pulaski Circuit Court to a reduced charge of sexual assault and received a four-month sentence.
The victims aren’t happy with the outcome.
In its account last week, the Democrat-Gazette said Thomas Winne of Bryant also gave up his therapist license and must register as a sex offender.
Winne had been charged with rape of three women. In the plea bargain, one of the charges was dropped and two rape charges were reduced to sexual assault. Police had investigated complaints from at least four women.
One victim said she wasn’t notified in advance of the plea bargain. Another said she’d been informed, but has grown angry at the light sentence. They believe he’ll harm others. The police detective who investigated the case said she’d found a “frightening” behavior pattern by Winne and in a closing report said, “What I find most disturbing about this whole investigation is how many more victims are out there that might have been raped and/or sexually assaulted at the hands of Thomas Winne.”
The prosecutor’s office has defended the outcome of the case.
Reports Daily Beast on an interview with Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Johnson:
Johnson said his office downgraded the charges after learning new information in their interviews with the victims that made it “difficult if not impossible to prove the force element of rape.”
“We entered into a negotiated plea, with [the victims’] knowledge, in the hopes that we would be able to mete out some degree of punishment against this person for what he’d done, and in the hopes that other victims would be protected from being sexually assaulted in the way these young women were assaulted,” Johnson said.
Johnson would not reveal what additional information changed the office’s view of the cases.