Steven Holmes, the 19-year-old North Philadelphia man who sexually assaulted a Temple student Nov. 1, 2007 in Anderson Hall, will serve 15 to 30 years in prison, followed by 27 years of probation for the assault.
The 22-year-old art major was attacked shortly after locking up a classroom around 7 p.m. Holmes, wearing a mask and allegedly high on the drug PCP, pounced on her. He then dragged her into a bathroom where he violently beat her, choked her unconscious and sexually assaulted her.
Judge Karen Shreeves-Johns sentenced Holmes last Friday. As a part of his punishment and rehabilitation, he will undergo drug and psychological treatment, anger management therapy and will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law.
“You are a menace,” Shreeves-Johns told an apologetic Holmes in court. “I don’t know where the system failed you, but you need to be watched for the greater portion of your life.”
Holmes had a lengthy record as a minor and escaped from a juvenile detention facility less than one month prior to the assault.
In May, Holmes pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated indecent assault, aggravated assault, robbery involving serious bodily injury, witness intimidation and related charges. Attempted rape and attempted murder charges were dropped earlier this year.
In her impact statement, the victim recalled the trauma she experienced that she still battles with as a result of the attack.
She remembered listening to her father deny she was his daughter in the emergency room following the incident because Holmes battered her so brutally she was unrecognizable.
“He didn’t realize I was his daughter until he heard my voice,” she said, adding that her mother had to leave the ER because it was so painful to see her daughter in that state.
“All I wanted was to go somewhere safe,” she said tearfully in court.
The victim, now 23, also said she still does not leave her home alone often. She said her college experience now holds a stigma she will never forget.
“It breaks my heart to know I will always look at the world [without trust],” she said.
Holmes’ public defender, Tracy Frederick, argued that Holmes is mentally ill, and he used to be on medication for schizophrenia. Frederick also argued because he was high on PCP, he has no recollection of the attack.
“He was mortified, embarrassed and guilty [when he learned of the attack],” she said. “He said to me sometime in July, ‘I’d like to write an apology letter.’ He feels horrible about it. He’s not making excuses.”
Frederick requested Shreeves-Johns to strongly consider rehabilitation for the “young man who is just beyond the juvenile system.”
Assistant District Attorney Bill Davis, the prosecutor in the case, requested that Shreeves-Johns sentence Holmes to at least 35 years in prison, citing that as a juvenile, it once took him only 14 days to commit another crime after being released.
“He said he was going to do something to [the witness he intimidated],” Davis argued. “That speaks to the fact that he has no remorse.”
Davis said none of the evidence shows Holmes was high on PCP at the time of the crime.
“At 19 years old, I don’t take [this long of] a sentence lightly,” he said. “I would ask the court to give justice and protect the community.”
Before the sentencing, Shreeves-Johns said Holmes is clearly mentally ill, and he was indeed diagnosed with schizophrenia, but said the alleged PCP use was a voluntary decision.
“I don’t believe the acts were totally intentional,” she said, “but I do find there’s a need for punishment.”
Members of the victim’s family and Holmes’ family declined comment.
Holmes will serve his sentence at State Correctional Institution at Waymart, a facility for mentally disabled inmates requested by the defense, so he can receive proper psychological care.
Morgan Zalot can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.