Timothy West broke into a stranger's house at 1:30 in the morning and raped her at knifepoint. Twice. West admitted as much on tape, when he called his victim and asked, "You mad at me?" But he was just acquitted.
West's alleged victim testified that in March of 2009, West came through her kitchen window, threatened her with a knife, and sexually assaulted her while her parents and brother slept upstairs. She said when he was finished, West asked her for her number. Thinking it might provide a way to catch him, she complied. Minutes after West had gone, the victim's brother called 911 to report the rape, and the break-in. She can be heard crying in the background on the tape.
The next day, West texted the woman, "What's up, girl?" She called him, and said, "Call me back please. I need to talk." Police secretly recorded their conversation as evidence. Reports the Daily News:
"You just broke into my house, yo. I've never seen you before .... You try to rob me, then you rape me," the woman said to Timothy West, 26, in the March 20, 2009, phone call. "Why you did that to me?"
West, who is accused of slipping into her Ozone Park house through a window and raping her twice at knifepoint just hours earlier, seemed confused at her fury.
"I do apologize from the bottom of my heart," he told her.
And then he had the nerve to ask: "You mad at me?... I can't call you no more?"
"What made you want to come in and break into my house? Why out of all the houses, why my house?" she pressed.
"It was just random," he replied.
"Can I come see you?" he asked.
She agreed to meet West at a Dunkin Donuts that night; instead, police were there waiting.
West's lawyer argued the sex was consensual; several jurors interviewed say they were swayed by the alleged lack of signs of forced entry at the victim's home. Writes the Daily News, "One juror said the panel believed the victim must have known West, and that she let him into her home." You know, with a knife. Through her kitchen window. At 1:30 in the morning. And never mind the fact that on the tape, which was played for the jury, West clearly stated his attack was random.
West's criminal history — he was convicted on an unrelated burglary charge earlier this year and had been paroled from a robbery sentence just two months before the incident — was concealed from the jury to avoid prejudice. His accuser's mother cried when she learned of West's acquittal. "I can't believe it," she said. "They had all the proof."
Apparently, a woman's testimony is worth so little in this country that not only do we largely fail to convict rapists when their victims have the misfortune to know them personally — we also can't convict even those criminals who break into strangers' homes and commit their rapes while armed. We also can't convict those criminals stupid enough to call their victims and admit their crimes. (West is not even a uniquely stupid criminal in that regard.) Timothy West will be going back to prison, but not for raping the woman who so bravely confronted him, on the phone the day after her assault, and in court — only to serve out the remainder of his sentence for that burglary. Because burglary is a crime juries actually think merits punishment.