The victim in the Craigslist rape case in Casper had so many injuries, a form with an illustration that a nurse used to document her wounds literally had no more room on it. The nurse testified she was unable to perform a standard rape examination because the woman, who was crying and shaking, was too hurt.
Two men were responsible for this senseless crime and the damage inflicted on the 25-year-old woman, which will be with her the rest of her life: the one who placed an online advertisement claiming she wanted to be raped, and the Bar Nunn man who responded and brutally attacked her.
Both are equally guilty, and they deserve the punishment meted out this week by Natrona County District Judge David Park, who decided they should each spend from 60 years to life in prison.
Reaction to the sentence for Jebidiah James Stipe, a 28-year-old Marine, has been fairly consistent. Most people believe the long sentence was justified, given that Stipe pleaded guilty to setting this horrific crime in motion by placing a Craigslist ad claiming to be the Casper woman. It read, in part, "Need a real aggressive man with no concerns for women."
Stipe pretended to be the woman in his e-mails with Ty Oliver McDowell, 26, who was reportedly one of several area men who answered the ad, including one who showed up at the victim's house with a camera after the rape. Stipe had placed similar ads on Craiglist seeking men to rape other women, including his ex-wife, but had no takers.
Both men had ample opportunities to come to their senses and call off the attack. Neither did, and McDowell pushed the victim into her home, tightly bound her wrists and held a knife to her throat. Though she fought and begged for mercy, she was raped with a penis and a knife sharpener and left naked and tied in her living room, bruised from head to toe.
Unbelievably, McDowell later told investigators, "I didn't really think she really wanted it, but she was enjoying it."
We are, frankly, amazed at the reaction to McDowell's sentence from some people who have commented online at trib.com. While many recognized the extreme nature of his crime, others excused him because he had been deceived by Stipe, whom they regard as the "real" criminal.
"(McDowell's) life has been ruined too, he's a victim as well," one person wrote. Another commented, "As far as he was concerned, he was conversing with a willing and consenting adult."
McDowell is not a victim. He is a criminal who pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree sexual assault and two other felonies stemming from the rape. We agree with District Attorney Mike Blonigen, who said after sentencing, "I do not see how any rational person can insist -- like Mr. McDowell continues to insist -- that this was a terrible misunderstanding."
McDowell claims he is "terribly sorry," but that doesn't offer the courageous victim any comfort. Her words in court were powerful, and damning: "This is something I will never get over. My family have been the ones to pick up the pieces of something (McDowell) tore apart for something that he thought was a game."
For anyone to claim that McDowell is just as much of a victim in this crime is obscene.
While we believe justice has prevailed in this incident, we regret that the names of the other men in this community who were ready and willing to brutally rape a woman remain unknown.
It's also unfair that Craigslist, which is immune from liability under a federal law, does not have to answer for its role in this heinous attack. While we understand that a business can be duped and used for nefarious acts, the online service has a moral obligation to better screen its advertisements and help prevent such criminal behavior.