BEAUFORT, S.C. – A man who pleaded guilty to kidnapping a 14-year-old girl and raping her for more than a week in an underground bunker was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum 421 years in prison.
"I have a strong belief you have forfeited your right to be a member of this society," Judge G. Thomas Cooper said before handing down the sentence. "I can think of no crimes short of murder more repulsive than these."
Vinson Filyaw pleaded guilty Tuesday, moments before his trial, to charges of kidnapping and 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct, one for each day prosecutors said he held the girl captive a year ago in Kershaw County.
The teen was rescued after she got hold of Filyaw's cell phone and sent a text message for help.
The girl, now 15, had planned to testify at his sentencing, but officials said she was too emotional to speak. Her mother hugged her as the girl's statement was read in court.
"What he did was every person's worst nightmare ... a nightmare no one should have to endure or survive," prosecutor Luck Campbell read from the statement.
The girl's mother described the fear and sleepless nights the family endured during the search for her daughter. She asked the judge to give Filyaw a lengthy sentence, one that would never allow him to leave prison.
"Our daughter will always be a hero to us," she said. "Her bravery and determination to return to us gave her the ability to outsmart her captor."
Filyaw detailed the crime in writings made from his jail cell, which prosecutors quoted Wednesday in asking Judge G. Thomas Cooper for a harsh sentence.
Filyaw said he posed as a police officer when he kidnapped the girl as she walked home from her bus stop. She was chained to a pipe in the tiny bunker and raped daily, authorities said.
"Like a predator, I waited on one lonely stray to walk by," prosecutor Barney Giese read from Filyaw's manuscript. "My adrenaline was rushing. My plan was to try to arrest the girl quietly, rather than grabbing her and carrying her."
While she was held, the girl gained Filyaw's trust, and he said he gave her his cell phone to play games. She used the phone to send a text message to her mother that led rescuers to the bunker. It is Associated Press policy to not identify sexual assault victims.
Filyaw apologized to the girl and her family during brief remarks to the judge.
"There are no words or statement I could possibly give to undo the pain I have caused her and her family," he said. He has said he expects to spend the rest of his life in prison.