A rapist was sentenced to 60 years in prison by a D.C. Superior Court judge who said the victim’s testimony was perhaps the “most harrowing this court has ever heard.”
Antwon Pitt, now 22, who came to symbolize the threat of violent repeat offenders, could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Judge Florence Pan delivered the sentence Friday morning after listening to statements from the victim and her husband.
The victim, a 41-year-old college professor, approached the prosecutors’ table and took a deep breath before starting to speak. She then described what happened on the afternoon of Oct. 13, 2015.
Pitt entered her home in the District’s Hill East neighborhood through an unlocked door and slammed her against a wall. He grabbed her by the throat, dragged her across the wood floor and threw her on the bed, where he raped her.
“I wanted to live, so I stopped fighting,” she said. “I went limp.”
She said she believed that Pitt, who is 6-foot-5, had the ability to “kill with his bare hands.” She thought she would never again see her husband or her young daughters.
She wondered whether Pitt would dump her body somewhere after he killed her. Maybe, she thought, her family would never find out what happened.
After the attack, the woman underwent surgery to repair fractures in her cheekbone and an eye socket. The jury saw photographs of her battered and swollen face.
Doctors found blood in her trachea. Even now, she cannot sing in her normal vocal range. The punches to her face left a floater in her right eye. It is a constant and persistent reminder of the attack, she said.
She has spent hours talking to a trauma therapist. Her marriage has been strained. It is difficult to speak about their struggles, she said.
The victim’s husband said the entire family — including their two young daughters — has been victimized by Pitt.
“Torture is not too strong a word to describe what Antwon Pitt has done to each of us,” he said.
The victim had to take HIV-prevention medication because of possible exposure during the sexual assault. She had to stop breast-feeding their younger daughter, who was just over a year old at the time of the attack. The sudden weaning caused the baby to cry and scream for hours before falling asleep.
“This is what Antwon Pitt did to her,” the husband said.
On the day of the assault, the husband said, he was late to pick up their older daughter from elementary school. She was the last child waiting there. He told her that her mother had been hurt.
Her mother’s bruised face was nearly unrecognizable. The family moved out of their home temporarily to escape the scene of the crime. The temporary move became permanent. The older child, now 5, did not adjust well and became withdrawn.
“This is what Antwon Pitt did to her,” the husband repeated.
As for the husband, the anguish and frustration built up. His temper grew shorter. His patience was gone.
Last winter, he punched a piece of furniture. The injury to his hand required surgery. “That is what Antwon Pitt did to me,” he said.
The husband also referred to numerous other individuals victimized by Pitt, saying it would be no exaggeration to say he has a “lifelong history of violence.”
The Washington Post has written extensively about Pitt’s journey through the criminal justice system in the District and his earlier predatory sexual behavior.
As a child, Pitt was accused of inappropriately touching his mother and younger sister. His mother became afraid of him, according to a pre-sentencing report. He went into a foster home, where he was accused of forcing a child to perform oral sex on him, according to court documents.
As a teenager, Pitt was sent to a live-in facility for troubled youth in Virginia. There, he was accused of raping at least two other residents. No criminal charges were filed. He was transferred to a facility in Georgia. Weeks later, he assaulted a resident there.
As an adult, he was convicted of aggravated assault, battery, robbery and assault of a police officer. While serving a two-year prison term for robbery, Pitt repeatedly exposed his genitals and masturbatedin front of corrections officers at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Florida, according to a review ofdisciplinary documents and interviews with officers.
The FBI investigated Pitt’s sexual misconduct, but no charges were filed. Once released from prison, he was bused back to the District last summer.
Just two months later, he had broken curfew and missed multiple therapy appointments. He cut off his GPS bracelet and was arrested for possessing synthetic drugs in a library.
Magistrate Judge William Nooter declined a prosecutor’s request to hold Pitt for violating his supervised release. At the time, a pretrial report stated that there were no release conditions that could ensure the safety of the community.
Days later, Pitt entered another woman’s apartment and stood in her room while she slept. He took some of her belongings and fled. A week later, he raped the college professor.
“We have all suffered,” the husband said. “We have all been tortured.”
Prosecutor Sarah McClellan told the judge that she should impose a sentence that would protect the community.
“Antwon Pitt must be stopped,” McClellan said.
Pitt, who was wearing an orange jumpsuit, stood with his hands shackled. He frequently whispered to his attorney while the victim was speaking. He did not make a statement to the judge.
Pitt’s attorney, Judith Pipe of the D.C. Public Defender Service, said her client was an “innocent man.” She also said there is a sentiment “that Mr. Pitt has been given so many chances and does not deserve another second chance.”
Pipe said she “could not disagree more.”
She said he was abandoned as a young child and had to wander the streets to find food. “No one ever saw him as the victim that he was and is,” she said.
Before issuing the sentence, Pan said she considered Pitt “a grave danger to the community.” She said his lack of remorse was particularly troublesome.
During the trial, Pitt took the stand and suggested that his cousin had entered the rape victim’s home that day. Pan said the testimony was “self-serving” and not at all credible.
The total sentence of 60 years encompasses nine charges, including burglary, robbery, first-degree sexual abuse, assault, kidnapping and threats. Pipe said she plans to file an appeal.
In a phone interview late Friday with The Washington Post, the victim said she felt a mix of relief and sadness.
“I mourn whatever it is that led Mr. Pitt to lack human empathy,” she said. “It makes me very sad that there are people who present such a danger that they seem unable to be rehabilitated even at such a young age.”
Now, she said, she plans to become an advocate on her university’s campus for other victims of sexual assault.
“I am strong,” she said.