A 23-year-old man who orchestrated the brutal sexual attack and robbery of a transgender woman was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Following the sentencing, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said, "Several decades ago, a case like this one may not have gone to trial, but today’s sentencing and the convictions of these defendants represent a significant step towards obtaining justice for all crime victims, regardless of background."

Vance credited the victim, saying, "All too often, we see defendants preying on individuals they believe to be weak. The survivor in this case showed true strength in the face of a brutal and relentless attack, and I thank her for her courage and willingness to come forward and testify at trial."

Damique Fennell, 23, was convicted last month of various counts of burglary (like burglary in the first degree as a sexually motived felony) and robbery. Prosecutors said that in February of 2013, Fennell and the victim, described as a "27-year-old woman of transgender experience who advertised escort services online," met at a Holiday Inn. But when the victim felt uncomfortable and asked him to leave, Fennell only pretended to leave. From the DA's press release:

Instead, Fennell pretended to exit the room and left the door ajar, allowing himself and three other unanticipated men—[Jorge] Castro, [Kalif] Haile, and [Abdul] Harrison—to force their way to into the victim’s hotel room shortly thereafter. Fennell struck the victim in the face and knocked her to the floor, where she was repeatedly kicked and beaten by the defendants and restrained with duct tape. As the victim lay on the ground, Fennell strangled and sexually abused the woman, and then threatened her while holding a gun to her head. The defendants also took the victim’s laptop, cell phones, and nearly $1,000 in cash before leaving her bound in the hotel room.

WCBS 2 reports

that in court yesterday, Judge Gregory Carro said Fennell "was motivated not just by taking money but by his own perverse sexual gratification and desire to denigrate and humiliate the victim."

After serving his prison term, Fennell will be under 20 years of post-release supervision. Castro, Haile and Harrison all pleaded guilty to first degree robbery, receiving 10-13 years in prison.

According to WCBS 2, Vance noted that "it was not considered a hate crime because all four men dated people from the transgender community."