Sentencing hearing begins for Anchorage serial rapist
The state is calling Clifford Lee one of the worst serial rapists in recent memory. Sentencing began Friday for Lee, an Anchorage resident who admitted to raping eight women over 13 years.
Lee was arrested in 2014, the year police say he raped six women. He accepted a plea deal from the state, agreeing to plead guilty to two consolidated counts of first -degree sexual assault in exchange for a lighter sentence. On Friday, assistant district attorney Jenna Gruenstein asked the judge to put Lee in prison for 99 years.
“The fact that each of these were conducted against a stranger that Mr.Lee had known for maybe 10 minutes prior to raping them makes it more serious,” said Gruenstein. “The predatory nature of how Mr. Lee found and then targeted and then lured in his victims makes it most serious.”
Most of Lee’s victims were women walking alone at night, often homeless, sometimes intoxicated, court documents say. He offered them rides, then threatened them to force them to have sex. Gruenstein said Lee admitted to using weapons to frighten his victims, including using a knife, a gun and a taser.
“This is all conduct that he’s admitted to,” said Gruenstein. “Eight different violent assaults, all but two of them using a weapon of some sort. I don’t think there’s any sentence that the court could give within this agreement that would be too high.”
But Lee’s attorney, Evan Chyun, said 99 years is too long for his client. He said Lee is taking responsibility for his actions, which could have been much worse.
“I’m not trying to minimize what the victims went through,” Chyun told the judge. “But you get sexual assaults where people are very badly injured physically, in addition to emotionally, and here the injury was primarily emotional. We aren’t talking about people being physically struck, shot, tortured, anything like that. It’s emotional pain and that’s real, but it could have crossed a lot further into physical pain, so its not most serious in that regard.”
Chyun is asking the judge to give Lee a 35 year sentence, with probation for an additional 15 years. He would be 70 years old upon his release in 2049.
The hearing was continued until Monday because state courts close early on Friday due to budget cuts. Lee is expected to make a statement to the judge at that time.
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