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In Manhattan, Sexual Assault Is (Un)Officially A Worse Crime Than Murder

We hate to say it, but if you're planning on violently sexually assaulting another human being, you'd be better off murdering them first.

Not that we condone violently sexually assaulting or murdering anyone, but in Manhattan, the punishment for murder is often less severe than the punishment for predatory sexual assault, which has led to some extremely lengthy prison time for several sadistic rapists.

The latest monster to never see the light of day again is 36-year-old Marquis Phillips, who was sentenced yesterday to 78 years to life in prison for the despicable sexual assault of a woman at a Manhattan apartment complex.

"Today's sentence reflects the brutal manner in which the defendant violated an innocent young woman in her own building," District Attorney Cy Vance says. "This defendant received a significant prison sentence for each count of the horrifying crimes he committed, and New Yorkers have been made safer as a result. I would like to thank the victim for her bravery."

Phillips' sentence mirrors the sentence of Michael "Rape Cop" Pena, who was sentenced earlier this year to 75 years to life for a similar sexual assault of a young teacher.

Pena's crimes are pretty depraved -- on the morning of August 19, a drunken Pena attacked the 25-year-old victim in the courtyard at an apartment building at 83 Park Terrace. Using his NYPD-issued pistol, Pena threatened the victim into going into the courtyard, where he sexually assaulted her repeatedly in broad daylight.

Pena was caught at the scene -- still zipping up his pants.

Forensic investigators found traces of the victim's DNA on Pena's penis, and Pena's DNA on the victim's underwear.

In both cases, the victims came away from the attacks with their lives. The rapists, however, will likely die in prison -- neither is eligible for parole until serving at least 75 or 78 years in prison, respectively.

Now, had Pena and Phillips murdered their victims prior to raping them, there's a good chance they could have plea bargained their way into a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, which means they'd be eligible for parole in roughly a quarter of a century. Take, for example, the case of Joseph Pabon, who was convicted of kidnapping and murdering a Manhattan mother of three.

On July 7, 2009, Pabon, who was working as a freight elevator operator at an office building at 2 Rector Street -- where victim Eridania Rodriguez also worked as a member of the cleaning staff -- followed Rodriguez to the 8th floor of the building, where he attacked her and suffocated her with industrial tape. He then used the freight elevator that he operated to move body to the 12th floor and hide it in an air duct. Rodriquez's body was found four days later.

It goes without saying that each of these men are monsters who belong in prison. However, something just seems fundamentally wrong when a murderer gets a lesser sentence than a non-murderer -- regardless of how horrific his crime may be. Unfortunately, under the law, Pabon could only be sentenced to concurrent sentences for the kidnapping and murder charges -- and his sentence is the maximum sentence allowed under the law. The judges in Pena's and Phillips' cases, however, had the authority to sentence them to consecutive sentences for the predatory sexual assault counts, which is why they'll be spending the rest of their lives behind bars.

Pena's Phillips' victim went through a horrific ordeal -- one we wouldn't wish on anyone. But she came out of it alive. The same can't be said for Rodriguez, whose children will now grow up without a mother.

That said, Pabon will be eligible for for parole when he's roughly 50 years old.


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