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Pa. man is guilty of attempted rape

May 14, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

"Reprehensible," "evil," "monster" and "rapist" were some of the words used to describe Douglas Paul Wingert by his own defense attorney, who argued in Franklin County Court that his client was guilty of several crimes, but not attempted rape.

The 39-year-old Harrisburg, Pa., man on Thursday was found guilty of trying to rape a 21-year-old teacher and related charges of terroristic threats, unlawful restraint, simple assault and indecent assault.

The eight women and four men on the jury deliberated about 15 minutes before finding the former delivery truck driver guilty on all counts in the May 22, 2003, sexual assault at a private school in Antrim Township. Because the jury had already ordered lunch, Wingert had to wait about 45 more minutes to learn his fate.

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Defense attorney Dustin McShane urged the jury to convict Wingert of the lesser charges, but argued Wingert did not have the "firm intent" necessary to be convicted of the criminal attempt to commit rape on the woman, who was alone in the school when he drove up and asked for directions to a Greencastle, Pa., car dealership.

Wingert, of 5225 Crestwood Drive, is a convicted rapist. He spent 15 years in state prison for raping a 14-year-old girl at knifepoint in 1985. Another two years were added for an unrelated indecent assault conviction, Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Nancy Meyers said. The victim of that rape testified Wednesday in the first day of the trial.

The teacher testified Wednesday, as well, telling the jury Wingert had driven up to the school and asked to use the phone. While inside, he grabbed her, put a knife to her throat and groped her.

She testified she slipped out of her jacket when he tried to put a cord around her wrists. He tackled her in the hallway and pinned her to the floor, but she struggled free again and ran away to hire in a nearby field.

Wingert did not testify in his own defense and McShane presented no witnesses or evidence. In his closing argument, he gave a power point presentation on "Ten Fact Based Reasons to Acquit Douglas Wingert" of attempted rape.

Among the reasons cited were that Wingert never removed any of his or her clothes and never declared that he intended to rape the woman.

"Douglas Wingert doesn't try and rape people. ... He does it," McShane argued.

In this case, McShane said Wingert was "a poster child for indecent assault," but never intended to rape the victim.

"Actions speak louder than words. ... You know exactly what this rapist's intent was," Meyers told the jury.

She said Wingert used a knife, tried to bind the woman's hands and threatened to kill her repeatedly.

"It seems very excessive for an indecent assault," Meyers said.

Wingert faces up to 20 years in prison for the attempted rape and another 14 years on the other charges, Meyers said. She said she will ask that the sentence run consecutive to a sentence Wingert received earlier this year for an indecent assault conviction in Dauphin County, Pa.

Judge Carol Van Horn did not schedule a date for sentencing, noting that Wingert will have to be evaluated by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board to determine if he is a sexually violent predator. That process can take months or more.

"Undoubtedly, we're going to appeal this case," McShane said. "I personally would have wished the jury spent a little more time deliberating."

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