Saturday, February 7, 2004

Man gets 118-year term in rapes of older women



By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A 44-year-old man who over the last decade broke into the homes of older women in Golf Manor, Pleasant Ridge and Roselawn, and raped them, will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Timothy Ferguson was sentenced Friday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to spend at least 118 years in prison on charges stemming from the rapes of four women and the attempted rape of another.

"These ladies, in the twilight of their years, were robbed of their peace, their security and their dignity," said Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Jim Butler.

Butler then read a letter to the court from one of the victims.

"This has been so humiliating, shameful, degrading, disgusting, dirty and demeaning," the 64-year-old woman wrote. "I no longer feel safe and secure. I'm alone in a daymare I did not instigate.

"I search for my spirit, which he has broken, as well as my links to humanity," she wrote. "The pain goes so deep I can't find the bottom."

Judge Steven Martin then imposed the maximum sentence allowed by law. "It is my fervent hope that you're never released into society in any way, shape or form until the end of your life," he said.

As required by law, Martin also designated Ferguson a sexual predator.

"Now I can feel safe again," said a 72-year-old woman who fought Ferguson off when he broke into her home and tried to rape her last year.

In January, jurors found the Pleasant Ridge man guilty of five charges of rape, one attempted rape, four charges of burglary and three charges of robbery related to the rapes of four women between 1993 and 2003. Jurors found Ferguson not guilty in the rape and robbery of a sixth woman. Prosecutors dropped charges relating to a fifth victim who died before the trial. Her death was not related to the attack.

Ferguson maintains his innocence.

"My prayers are with the victims," Ferguson said. "But I am not guilty of these crimes."

The trial hinged on DNA. The rapist left DNA evidence at all but one crime scene. Authorities did not have anything to match the DNA against until investigators followed Ferguson and picked up a cigarette butt that he threw down. Officials extracted DNA from saliva left on the butt, then matched it to DNA pulled from the earlier crime scenes.

At the end of the sentencing, Martin took a moment to thank Butler, police officers and coroner's office officials who worked on the case.

"(Your work) is appreciated by the court and taxpayers of Hamilton County and the city of Cincinnati," Martin said.

E-mail scoolidge@enquirer.com




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