Kansas man sentenced in rape case that divided his hometown

A 22-year-old man whose case divided his small northeast Kansas town was sentenced Friday to more than 27 years in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life for raping two of the women who alleged he had assaulted them.

Jacob Ewing of Holton was also ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported .

Ewing was convicted in June of raping and sodomizing one woman in 2016 and raping and committing two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy against another woman in 2014. He was also convicted of battery, possession of drug paraphernalia and charges related to furnishing alcohol to minors.

He was acquitted in April of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. He still faces trial in October on charges that include attempted rape and in November on 10 felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child. District Judge Norbert Marek ruled earlier that a jury should decide if Ewing knowingly viewed the sexually explicit images of a 17-year-old girl.

Before the sentencing, the two victims asked the judge to give Ewing a long sentence, in part so they could feel safe with him behind bars.

"You might not see my scars but that's all I see," said one victim, who said the trauma she suffered affected her relationships and career.

The mother of one victim looked at Ewing as she described watching her daughter change from an optimistic, outgoing woman to a "shell" of her former self.

"I can do nothing to take the pain away from her," she said. "It is only you Jacob Ewing who is responsible."

Defense attorney Kathleen Ambrosio had asked Marek to sentence Ewing to just under 13 years, noting that he will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

"I think by anyone's standards that length is a substantial sentence and will send a message to him and anyone else," Ambrosio said. "He will be marked for life not only by the law but by the community."

Allegations that Ewing, a former state football champion and member of a well-known family, had sexually assaulted five women and a teenager divided Holton, a town of 3,300 residents about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Topeka. Ewing supporters have said the allegations don't fit the person they know. They posted signs in their yards and wore supportive T-shirts to court.

Advocates for the women formed a support group on Facebook and organized volunteers to sit in the courtroom during proceedings.

The sentencing was a relief for the victims and their family said Michelle McCormick, program director for the YWCA's Center for Safety and Empowerment.

"A significant amount of time does justice for a lot of people," she said. "Not just these women, but also those who didn't have cases come forward or didn't speak out."

Lawrence psychologist Robert Barnett testified that an evaluation conducted in August found Ewing didn't suffer from any mental illness. He said his general behavior was "hedonistic and irresponsible," but not requiring mental health treatment beyond substance abuse therapy.

Ewing will stand trial Oct. 2 for charges of attempted rape, aggravated sexual battery and battery. Another trial involving 10 felony counts of sexual exploitation of child is scheduled for Nov. 15.

During a hearing in July, Marek dismissed charges of rape scheduled for trial in August at the request of special prosecutor Jacqie Spradling, who called one of his accusers in that case to testify during the June trial that ended with his conviction. Double jeopardy standards in Kansas prevent prosecution of pending charges if those cases are used as evidence in an earlier trial.

With two trials pending, Ewing's earliest release date would be in fall of 2040. Ewing has been in jail since August 2016 and will remain in county custody through then end of a trial scheduled in November.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com