Kathleen Parker

After the sexual encounter - that is, after Gorman stopped when Chastity said, "Stop" - Gorman drove her back to campus and dropped her near her dorm. Chastity immediately called a male friend, who urged her to file a police report. In those next few hours, Rich Gorman's life was being unraveled while he slept.

He awoke to police at the door. Within hours, Gorman was charged with sexual battery and locked up. Within days, he was suspended from his college and his fraternity. Within weeks, his family was devastated, financially strapped, and hell was waiting around the corner.

Gorman went to trial twice in Tallahassee. The first, in February 2005, ended with a hung jury. The second, in June 2005, went so badly for the prosecution that Chastity's lawyers offered Gorman a plea bargain the night before the verdict: 12 months probation, no prison.

But Gorman, his parents and attorneys were so convinced of a not-guilty verdict that they passed on the plea bargain. When the jury issued a guilty verdict, the judge ordered lawyers for both sides to come up with a new plea agreement less than the mandatory 8.9 years.

To his great regret, Gorman signed off on the agreement, which also included waivers prohibiting his seeking any post-conviction relief, including raising claims of ineffective counsel.

Thus, until Gorman is 37 years old, he will be on probation, possibly under curfew, and will have to live under sex offender restrictions until he's at least 47.

Postscript:

Before going to trial, Gorman reconnected with his high school sweetheart. They have a 9-month-old baby girl and hope to marry under more normal circumstances.

Before going to sleep the same night she allegedly was raped, Chastity spent the night and every night thereafter for several months with the male friend she called that night, according to depositions. Within a week of the alleged rape, she was back out partying with friends.

Two lives, two very different outcomes.

Gorman, a regular college Joe, a good student and a good son, lives behind bars for having sex with a gal he thought was willing.

Chastity, whom I only know through her testimony and depositions, may have been a regular college Jane. But she also had a record of finding herself in situations she later regretted. She also apparently had a drug problem.

In February 2004, a year before Gorman's first trial, her father took her out of school and installed her in rehab for a cocaine addiction, according to the father's deposition. Chastity refused to stay longer than three days.

One life goes on. The other is ruined.

Five seconds - or 15 - is all it takes.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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