Editor’s note: This story contains descriptions of sexual assault and graphic violence. If you are a rape victim and need assistance, please call RAINN at 800-856-HOPE.
LITTLE VILLAGE — A man accused of beating and raping a Polish teenager last summer rejected a plea deal Wednesday, which means the victim of the brutal attack will have to travel to the United States to face her alleged attacker.
Rufus Carson, 39, faces felony charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping and attempted first degree murder. On Wednesday, for the third time, he rejected a plea deal that would put him behind bars for 30 years.
As a result, Carson goes to trial in March.
If convicted, Carson faces a sentence of anywhere between 30 and 120 years, Assistant State’s Attorney Mikki Miller said Wednesday. He would have to serve 85 percent of his sentence, or at least 25 1/2 years.
The victim’s family hoped Carson would take the plea deal so she would not have to return to Chicago from Poland and relive the horrific attack during a jury trial, a court advocate previously said.
Carson was expected to accept a plea deal in October, but he told a judge he wanted to serve 25 years instead of 30.
He returned to court in December, expected to take the deal then. But he instead asked a judge if he could wait until after the holidays.
On Wednesday, Carson once again asked Judge Thaddeus Wilson for more time to accept the deal. He told the judge his mother was sick.
Wilson rejected Carson’s request.
“There will be no more plea deals after today,” Wilson said.
The trial will begin March 20. A pretrial conference is scheduled for Feb. 28.
Wilson noted that because the victim lives in Poland, the state will incur hefty fees in travel costs associated with bringing her to Chicago for the trial.
The victim, nicknamed “Warrior Woman” by the West Town community in 2018, spent months relearning how to walk and talk after the attack, Miller has said.
That she is now forced to meet Carson in person at the March trial horrified a group of about a half-dozen neighbors and court advocates.
Roland Poulet, a Ukrainian Village resident and a court advocate of two years, said Carson had “no remorse.”
“This is just a game for him,” he said.
Julie Sawicki, a West Town neighbor and court advocate who is of Polish descent, has been in contact with the victim’s father.
“They’re gonna be in tears,” she said. “They’re gonna be devastated.”
Ukrainain Village resident Mary Ann Sochacki said she did not understand why Carson would not accept the 30-year deal offered by the court.
“Guilty is guilty. Why doesn’t he accept that?” she said. “I don’t want another woman to [be his victim]. This could have happened to any of us.”
The victim’s extended family declined to be interviewed on Wednesday. She and her immediate family are currently in Poland, where she is still recovering.
The Horrifying Attack
Prosecutors allege that around 7 a.m. Aug. 26, 2018, the victim was walking from the Chicago Blue Line station to the Starbucks at the corner of Ogden and Grand avenues in West Town when Carson grabbed her, put her in a “chokehold” and dragged her into an alley “clearly against her will.”
Video surveillance from the CTA and neighboring properties “clearly” shows Carson grabbing the victim, but it does not visually capture what happened next. The camera’s audio component recorded the attack, however, Miller said.
The audio feed begins with about 10 minutes of the victim screaming, as well sounds of the victim’s head banging against the concrete ground. During the attack, Carson beat the victim repeatedly and raped her multiple times, Miller said.
After 10 minutes, video footage resumes, showing Carson standing on Ogden Avenue, “adjusting his pants” and looking around, Miller said.
Carson then disappears from view again and allegedly raped and beat the woman for an additional 10 minutes, Miller said.
After the attack, Carson returned to the Blue Line, where additional CTA footage showed him taking off his shirt, sweating and appearing “out of breath,” Miller said.
Witnesses found the victim unconscious and near death about an hour and a half later.
For a brief few seconds, the victim regained consciousness and told an EMT, “I was raped,” before slipping back into unconsciousness.
She then spent several days in a coma at Northwestern Hospital, where she was treated for traumatic brain injuries, shattered facial bones and lesions.
After that, she spent several months in a rehabilitation facility, where she relearned how to walk and talk.
Her earliest attempts at speaking were screams of terror while lying in a fetal position, Miller said.
In addition to video and audio footage capturing the attack, Miller said Carson’s DNA matched the rape kit. When he was arrested 24 hours later, the victim’s blood was on his clothes, Miller said.
Carson has five prior felony convictions, including two for burglary, two for narcotics with intent to sell and one for possessing a stolen vehicle, police said.
He also has a pending charge in McHenry County from when he was accused of exposing himself to his girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter, Miller said.
Carson was out on bond when the West Town attack took place.
In the last couple of years, hundreds of neighbors have stepped up financially to help the victim.
As of Wednesday, the GoFundMe page started for “Warrior Woman” has $34,873 from a collective 719 donors, surpassing neighbors’ initial $30,000 goal.
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