Inmate who raped Arizona prison teacher gets life in prison

Created: 09/14/2015 7:22 PM

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona inmate who pleaded guilty to raping a prison teacher apologized to the woman in court Monday before being sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Jacob Harvey's apology came after the teacher's attorney read a lengthy statement from her describing how the January 2014 rape had traumatized her and led to what she called "unwanted psychological reactions, unwanted memories and psychological distress."

The 35-year-old woman sat with her parents in the courtroom while her attorney, Scott Zwillinger, read her words.

"At one point after the rape I wished inmate Harvey had just killed me because death seemed like a relief compared to the hell I was living," her statement said. "While I may have wanted to die shortly after the rape, I now have a greater purpose and will to live."

She asked Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin White to give Harvey the harshest possible sentence. Her name was withheld by The Associated Press because she is a sex assault victim.

Harvey, 21, addressed White in a quiet voice, never looking back at the teacher he had attacked in a prison classroom.

"I just want to say that I do feel true remorse for everything that happened," Harvey said. "Most of all I would like to say to the victim that I truly am sorry for what I have done. I hope she will forgive me one day."

White then handed down the mandatory life term for rape, plus two lengthy terms for kidnapping and assault.

Harvey was in the first year of a 30-year sentence for raping a suburban Phoenix woman when he assaulted the teacher. The new sentence starts when the first ends.

The woman in the latest case is suing the state over the attack in a classroom at the Eyman state prison in Florence.

The attack raised questions about prison security because the teacher was put into a room full of sex offenders with no guards nearby and no closed-circuit cameras. She had only a radio to call for help.

The Department of Corrections tightened security for teachers in state prisons after the assault.

In a statement Monday, prisons spokesman Andrew Wilder said the agency was pleased with the sentence.

"The Arizona Department of Corrections appreciates that justice has been served for the violent and reprehensible criminal actions committed by inmate Harvey against our employee," it said.

Arizona prison officials are appealing a $14,000 fine levied by state workplace safety regulators for failing to protect a teacher. The action by the state Division of Occupational Health and Safety marked a rare fine by the state agency against the Department of Corrections.

The agency also is investigating the April 13 sexual assault of a corrections officer at the state prison in Yuma.

In the previous case in 2011, Harvey — just 17 at the time — had knocked on the woman's door in the middle of the day, asked for a drink of water, then forced his way inside while her 2-year-old child was in the apartment.

He fled naked when the woman's roommate arrived home.

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