A homeless woman who was raped while she was sleeping rough under a bridge walked up to eight miles to see her attacker in court. On other occasions she begged from people so that she could buy a bus ticket.
Officials in Columbus said the determination of the 47-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was crucial to securing the conviction of her attacker.
“I didn't want to see him do it to anyone else,” the woman told the the Columbus Dispatch. “If he would do that to me, imagine what he might do to his next victim.”
Officials said the man convicted of the crime, Paul Hubert, 54, pleaded guilty to rape before the case went to trial. He was sentenced on February 10 to three years in prison.
Police said they believed the woman had played a central role in securing Hubert’s conviction.
“He was counting on her not showing up,” Columbus police detective James Ashenhurst told the Associated Press. “If it wasn't for her cooperation, he would have walked.”
Hubert’s lawyer, Brian Rigg, said his client had a problem with drugs and alcohol that caused 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, police said.
Officials said his Ohio victim attended more than half-a-dozen court hearings by getting bus passes from prosecutors or collecting change for a bus ticket. On at least two occasions she walked to courthouse, a journey that took about three hours.
The woman said she had been homeless for two years. She had remained without a place to live even after the rape but now hoped to find somewhere to stay.
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,” he said. “She always got here, no matter what her circumstances.”
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