Former Iowa student convicted of sex assault on Pentacrest gets 10-year sentence

Defendant submits several letters of reference to court

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A former University of Iowa student, convicted in a 2010 sexual assault near the Pentacrest after his victim identified him on Facebook, was sentenced Friday morning to up to 10 years in prison.

Evan Michael Pfeifer, 20, of Lake Barrington, Ill., also will have to register as a sex offender after he’s released from prison, which could be sooner than 10 years, according to District Court Judge Mitch Turner.

“Your incarceration can be reduced by as much as half,” Turner said. “That just means you might be eligible for parole before your sentence is discharged.”

Throughout Pfeifer’s sentencing hearing, his family members and friends wept. As he was led out of the courtroom, Pfeifer began sobbing and a supporter said, “You’ll be out before you know it.”

“You have a lot to be proud of,” she said through tears. “You’ll be OK.”

No one spoke for the victim during the hearing. None of Pfeifer’s family members or friends wanted to comment to a reporter after the sentencing.

Pfeifer, while crying, spoke on his own behalf.

“I would like to thank my family and my friends for being here to support me through all this,” he said. “It’s been a rough time for me and everyone else here … I hope justice will finally be served.”

Pfeifer, was convicted Nov. 30 of third-degree sexual abuse in connection with the attack on Oct. 3, 2010. The conviction comes with a mandatory sentence of up to 10 years in prison, but Pfeifer’s attorney Mark Brown still submitted six reference letters to the court for his client.

“The court is aware of Evan’s educational successes and his many successes in his life,” Pfeifer said. “The negative is that no matter what I proffer to the court today, it’s not going to change the fact that this is a mandatory sentence.”

Judge Turner called the reference letters impressive.

“I read them with interest and sadness,” he said, at which time a man who appeared to be Pfeifer’s father began sobbing.

Pfeifer also was sentenced to pay a $1,000 fine, but Turner suspended that requirement. After Pfeifer is released from prison, he will be ordered to a term of parole. If he violates those conditions, he could face a more severe penalty because of this conviction.

Pfeifer has been in custody since Dec. 3, 2012, and he will get credit for time served. Earlier this week, a judge denied Pfeifer’s motion for a new trial.

Assistant County Attorney Anne Lahey said the prosecution believes the sentence is fair given the nature of the crime.

According to court testimony, the victim – who was 19 at the time – said she was walking home from a party with friends about 2 a.m. in October 2010. The victim testified that she lagged behind the group as they weaved through campus by the Pentacrest, and a man – later identified as Pfeifer – approached her and started a conversation.

She testified that Pfeifer eventually led her over to a tree and guided her to the ground, where he held her down, pinned her hands and arms under his knees and placed a hand over her mouth. She said she struggled to free herself and told him to stop before she gave up fighting.

A witness reported seeing two people having sex on the Pentacrest that morning, according to testimony, and said he was suspicious. The witness said he approached the woman after she separated from the man and found her sobbing. He asked if she had been raped, and she nodded yes, he testified.

The woman didn’t immediately call police, but a week later she recognized Pfeifer on campus. Her sister followed him and struck up a conversation, getting his name and looking him up on Facebook, according to testimony.

The victim found him on the online social network and reported the assault on Nov. 1, 2010 – about two weeks after her sister first talked with Pfeifer.

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