ROCKVILLE, MD - A Rockville man was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of one count of second degree rape of a friend of his in May 2015.
"Hopefully the message goes out that, you know, you cannot take advantage of your friends, even if they’re drinking and that if you do, there will be a consequence,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy after the sentencing.
Court documents said on May 17, 2015, Richard William Morse, 22, and the victim, who DCW50 is not identifying, ended up at the same bar in Bethesda after a night of drinking. At the end of the night, both they and several other friends went to a house in Potomac, Md.
The victim got sick and was put to sleep in a guest bedroom. She told police that she woke up to Morse having sex with her.
"It may be psychologically even more damaging to the victim that the person who took advantage of her and raped her was someone she thought was a friend,” said McCarthy.
Morse told police, and reiterated in court, that along with drinking heavily, he had taken an anti-anxiety drug, Klonopin, that he wasn’t prescribed and had gotten from a friend. He said he doesn’t remember anything from that night.
Prosecutor Mary Herdman countered that not remembering wasn’t a defense and it showed that Morse still hasn’t accepted responsibility for his actions.
Morse also apologized to the victim and for ruining a good friendship. The victim was not in the courtroom for the sentencing and did not write a victim impact statement. Herdman said the woman “felt belittled” during the trial and none of her actions that night should have justified what happened to her. She added that “a rape is a rape is a rape.”
When announcing his sentence, Judge David Boynton said the crime Morse committed didn’t seem to match with the type of person Morse was, according to the 100-plus letters written on his behalf by family and friends, but it didn’t diminish what he did. He added that he felt Morse’s apology to the victim was self-centered, because he felt Morse focused on the damage to his friendship with the victim and not to her. He finished by saying that Morse still has a lot to learn.
"There are no winners. OK? No winners. Everybody has lost in this case,” said Barry Helfand, Morse’s defense attorney afterwards. Helfand had asked the court for probation for his client, but was expecting a five year sentence.
Morse will also have to register as a sex offender for life, a sentence that Helfand argued against in court, saying it will doom his client more than prison.
"This is clearly not a case for a sexual registry. This young man is not a predator. There is nothing about him that’s ever been a predator,” said Helfand.
Morse will be eligible to apply for parole after serving two-and-a-half years of his sentence. When he is released, he faces five years of probation.