A Fort Wayne man was convicted in the New Year’s Day rape of a 19-year-old store clerk.
It took a jury a little more than two hours Thursday night to find Robert P. Kemp Jr. guilty on each count of rape and criminal deviate conduct in the sex assault of a cashier inside the women’s bathroom at Walgreens at Lincoln Way East and Ironwood Drive Jan. 1.
The jury also found Kemp guilty of being a habitual offender, which could add up to 30 years in prison onto his sentence.
Kemp, 38, faces 20 to 50 years behind bars on the rape and criminal deviate conduct convictions when he returns to St. Joseph Superior Court June 21 at 11 a.m. for sentencing in front of Judge Jerome Frese.
“We’re very happy with the verdict,” the victim’s mother, whose name is withheld to protect the identity of her daughter, said outside the courtroom after the verdicts were read.
But the mother added that knowing the man who raped her daughter would likely be going away to prison for the rest of his natural life doesn’t bring closure to the victim or her family.
“This may give her some sense of peace,” the mother said.
Asked how the victim, who is now 20, reacted upon hearing the guilty verdicts, her father said, “She let out a sigh of relief.”
Kemp showed no emotion when the judge pronounced the jury’s unanimous verdicts.
“I know my client is disappointed,” Kemp’s attorney, Chuck Lahey, said outside the courtroom afterward. “But we understand the jury made the best decision they could. They worked hard at it.”
Lahey said he plans to appeal the verdicts.
Deputy Prosecutor Christy Haws charged that Kemp lay waiting in the handicapped stall inside the women’s bathroom at Walgreens when the woman entered after she had clocked back into work following a lunch break at about 1 p.m. that day.
“The decision she made to go into that bathroom at that time is a decision that changed her life forever,” Haws told jurors.
The victim took the stand Tuesday and told jurors Kemp came up from behind in the bathroom, put his hand over her mouth, and threatened, “Don’t say anything or I’ll kill you.”
Then he pushed her into the stall and ordered her to take her pants off.
Kemp at first tried to force himself inside her, but when he couldn’t he ordered her to turn around and perform oral sex on him.
The victim was then ordered to lie down on the bathroom floor, where Kemp raped her.
The trial took an unexpected turn Thursday when Kemp took the stand and claimed the sex was consensual, and that the victim introduced herself in the Walgreens parking lot and offered to perform oral sex in exchange for $20.
Kemp told jurors he had just left his motel room at the Wooden Indian and walked two blocks to Walgreens to buy a pop.
He said the victim approached in the parking lot, offered him oral sex for a fee, and agreed to meet him in the Walgreens bathroom 30 minutes later.