WICHITA, Kan. – A Kansas man convicted of raping women who advertised in the "erotic services" section of Craigslist was sentenced Thursday to 29 years in prison.
David Lee Gage, 51, of Wichita, was convicted last month of three counts of rape, two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy and one count each of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault.
Prosecutors say he met the women at motels, flashed a federal marshal's badge and threatened to arrest them for prostitution if they didn't have sex with him.
Assistant Sedgwick County Prosecutor Justin Edwards said he believes there were other victims over the years, though the three women who testified against Gage were raped in a 10-week span last year.
Gage's attorney, public defender Quentin Pittman, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston said Gage could be freed in 24 years, with good behavior, and will have to register as a sex offender.
Gage was convicted a decade ago of false impersonation of a police officer and promoting prostitution. He was nabbed while threatening to arrest an undercover officer who was working a prostitution sting, Edwards said in a phone interview.
The Wichita Police Department got a tip in July 2008 that a man posing as a law enforcement officer was forcing women to have sex with him, according to prosecutors. Investigators discovered Gage's 1998 arrest and began watching him, prosecutors said, and on Aug. 1 tracked him to a motel where he was caught leaving after raping his final victim.
Prosecutors said a photograph of a naked woman in handcuffs that was found on Gage's cell phone led to another victim, who was raped on May 23. Those two women and one who was raped on July 25 testified at his trial. All had posted ads on Craigslist.
Jim Buckmaster, CEO of the San Francisco-based online classified service, expressed sympathy for the victims Thursday while noting that Gage had committed a similar crime a decade earlier, "long before Craigslist came to Wichita."
"We are horrified when Craigslist is misused for criminal purposes, and our hearts go out to the victims," Buckmaster said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "We work closely with law enforcement agencies to help them catch and prosecute such criminals."
Buckmaster met earlier this month with attorneys general from Missouri, Illinois and Connecticut who pressed him to do something about ads on Craigslist that they believed solicited illegal sexual activity. The talks came after the April 14 killing of a New York woman who had advertised on the site.
Craigslist has since pledged to eliminate its "erotic services" category and screen submissions to a new "adult services" section before posting them.