COLUMBUS, Ohio – A homeless woman who was raped while sleeping under a bridge last year sometimes begged for bus money or walked up to 8 miles over the past year so she could face her attacker in court.
Her determination to be in court helped win a conviction against the man, said a police officer who investigated the case.
"He was counting on her not showing up," said Columbus police detective James Ashenhurst. "If it wasn't for her cooperation, he would have walked."
Paul Hubert, 54, pleaded guilty to rape before the case went to trial and was sentenced Feb. 10 to three years in prison.
His attorney, Brian Rigg, said Hubert has a problem with drugs and alcohol that causes him to be "a completely different person."
DNA entered into a statewide database led police to Hubert, who had an earlier conviction for receiving stolen property. He lived in Springfield in Clark County but often visited the Columbus area to see a girlfriend, Ashenhurst said.
The 47-year-old woman said she made it to about a half-dozen court hearings by getting bus passes from prosecutors or panhandling for bus fare. At least twice, she walked to courthouse — a journey that took about three hours, she said.
"I didn't want to see him do it to anyone else," she told The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/16RlTJp). "If he would do that to me, imagine what he might do to his next victim."
The Associated Press generally does not name sexual assault victims.
Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Michael Hughes told the judge who sentenced Hubert about the woman's efforts to help prosecute Hubert.
"Not in every case do we have people who show this kind of resolve," Hughes said. "She always got here, no matter what her circumstances."
The woman told the newspaper that she has been homeless for two years and now hopes to find a place to live even though she has remained on the streets since she was raped.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com