Airman convicted of rape gets 18 years
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — At 20 years old he broke into the dorm room of a 19-year-old airman and raped her while she slept. A year later he raped a friend after she dropped by his place for a movie.
By the time he was 22, Airman Basic Renato Sanchez del Carpio was found guilty of both rapes and left to beg a seven-member jury for leniency.
“You hold my life in your hands,” Sanchez said as part of a brief but emotional plea during his sentencing hearing Thursday morning. “I ask for your mercy.”
But Sanchez’s teary-eyed entreat for clemency did not sway the jury of two women and five men, who sentenced the man they convicted Wednesday night of raping two RAF Lakenheath airmen in the span of 12 months to 18 years behind bars and a dishonorable discharge.
The sentencing hearing brought to a close a grueling four-day trial that included testimony from both victims as well as a host of Air Force personnel connected to both the victims and the roughly 2-year-old investigation.
The first victim, who was raped by Sanchez after he broke into her on-base dorm room following a night of partying with friends on Oct. 28, 2005, nearly suffered a panic attack during her Saturday testimony.
“He stole her safety from her,” said Air Force prosecutor Capt. Ashley Richards during the sentencing hearing. “She was panicked just to be in the same room with him.”
The second victim, who acknowledged a previous sexual relationship with Sanchez, held back tears Monday as she recalled the night of Oct. 6, 2006, when a break from doing laundry ended with Sanchez raping her in his dorm room.
“She loved him, she cared about him,” Richards said. “And he betrayed that trust. He abused that trust.”
Both victims, who will not be identified according to Stars and Stripes policy, initially declined to report their rapes to authorities, but the Air Force Office of Special Investigation opened probes into both sexual assaults following a tip from another airman that the second victim had been raped by a separate suspect two weeks after being raped by Sanchez. That allegation, however, proved unfounded.
The fate of the 48th Dental Squadron airman was determined by more than emotional testimony.
A covert listening device worn by the second victim during a confrontation with Sanchez proved vital. On the tape, Sanchez can be heard admitting that he heard her say no and apologizing for raping her.
Sanchez did not testify at the trial, but made a short plea Thursday before the prosecution implored the jury of three officers and four enlisted airmen to sentence him to no less than 20 years.
The airman recounted a difficult childhood, saying he was born in Peru, immigrated to America as a child, drifted into a troubled crowd as a teenager and sought a new start in the Air Force. He told the jury that he was sorry for raping the second victim, but did not mention the first.
“I am 22 years old, and I believe I have a future,” he said. “I hope you will also believe I have a future.”