DOBSON — A Mount Airy man was convicted of attempted second-degree rape and assaulting a handicapped person in Superior Court on Thursday.
The legally blind victim of the April 23, 2013, incident had initially reported that the defendant, Dennis Norman Hughes, had physically assaulted her, according to the state’s summary of the evidence provided during the hearing.
She later returned and alerted law enforcement that the assault had been sexual in nature.
Hughes, 51, of Badgett Avenue, was charged with first-degree rape, a class B1 felony, and assault of a handicapped person, class A1 misdemeanor.
He pleaded guilty Thursday by Alford decision to the reduced felony violation and the misdemeanor.
An Alford plea indicates that the defendant maintains his or her innocence but admits that the state has enough evidence to convict.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Beal said it was in the “best interests of all that we resolve the matter,” adding that the State Crime Lab samples of physical evidence returned were “unfavorable to the state.”
The victim chose not to be present for the hearing but supported the agreement, Beal said.
The defendant’s attorney Patrick Casstevens told the court that entering the plea was “in his (client’s) best interest to do so.”
Casstevens asked Presiding Judge Eric Morgan, of Forsyth County, to find two mitigating factors in the case, that Hughes was responsible for the care of his mother and had strong family support in Surry County.
After accepting the plea, Morgan said, “A mitigated sentence is justified.”
Hughes, was ordered to serve 41 to 118 months in the Department of Adult Corrections with credit for 1,232 days served.
He is required to register as a sex offender for 30 years and is not required to enroll in satellite-based monitoring.
The defendant is also ordered to pay the costs of court, which include more than $12,000 in jail fees.
Few assaults reported
According to information compiled by the Rape, Incest and Abuse National Network (RAINN), only 334 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police.
Of those, 63 reports lead to arrest, 13 cases get referred to prosecutors and seven lead to a felony conviction.
A U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study, “Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010,” published in 2013 showed that from 2005 to 2010 victims gave the following reasons for not reporting:
• Gave another reason, or did not cite one reason (30 percent); feared retaliation, (20 percent); believed the police would not do anything to help, (13 percent); believed it was a personal matter (13 percent); reported to a different official (8 percent); did not want the perpetrator to get in trouble (7 percent); believed the police could not do anything to help (2 percent);
Those who did report gave the following reasons for doing so:
• To protect the household or victim from further crimes by the offender (28 percent); to stop the incident or prevent recurrence or escalation (25 percent); to improve police surveillance or they believed they had a duty to do so (21 percent); to catch/punish/prevent offender from reoffending (17 percent); gave a different answer, or declined to cite one reason (6 percent); to get help or recover loss (3 percent).
RAINN uses data from a variety of sources including information from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the U.S. Department of Justice studies and, primarily, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
The NCVS is an annual study conducted by the U.S. Justice Department where about 150,000Americans are interviewed about crimes they have experienced, including those that were not reported to the police, according to the RAINN website, which states:
“While the NCVS has a number of limitations (most importantly, children under 12 are not included), overall, it is the most reliable source of crime statistics in the U.S.”
The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 800-656-HOPE or online.rainn.org.
The Surry County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault crisis line is 336-356-2014.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.