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The Journal Gazette

  • Lavonte Wilderness

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 8:35 pm

48 1/2 years for 2014 rape

Jeff Wiehe | The Journal Gazette

A 27-year-old man convicted of raping a woman under the threat that he had a gun was sentenced today to 48 1/2 years in prison. 

In a meandering statement to the sentencing judge, Levonte Wilderness claimed he was not a violent person nor a "menace to society." 

"I've done good. I'm a good person," Wilderness claimed. 

But according to court documents, one night in August 2014 he approached a woman he had never seen before as she got into her car and acted as if he had a gun as he got in with her and told her to drive. 

The pair ended up at a nearby gas station, where he stayed with her and was seen on surveillance video with his hand on the small of her back. They got back into the car, and he told her to drive to a dead-end, where he pushed her out of the vehicle, sexually assaulted her and tried to strangle her, according to court documents.

He beat her and forced himself on her. When she vomited, he ran off on foot, according to court documents.

The victim told police he seemed "sure of himself and quite confident" and that she had never seen him before, according to court documents.

In court, she told the judge how she hadn't slept in a year, how she'd struggled through counselling since her rape, how she's now on medication and how everywhere she looks, at every man, she sees the face of Levonte Wilderness.

Including in that of her own father. 

"You damaged my mind, body and soul," the woman told Wilderness in court. 

While handing down the sentence to Wilderness, Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull told the woman that while it's understandable she sees herself as a victim, her bravery to stand up in court and testify about what happened to her paints her in an entirely different light. 

"I encourage yourself to characterize yourself as a survivor," Gull said.

jeffwiehe@jg.net