Yesterday, the man who raped a 73-year-old birdwatcher in Central Park last year was sentenced to 30 years in prison and 10 years supervised released. His victim appeared at the sentencing and unloaded, telling him, "You, David Albert Mitchell, for the pain you inflicted on me and, by association, my loving family and friends, may you rot in hell for all eternity," and said to the judge, "Make no mistake: This is a sexual terrorist... do the right thing so that nobody else is every hurt or menaced by this evil infestation."
Last September, the woman had been birdwatching near Strawberry Fields—the tourist magnet near West 72nd Street—when Mitchell attacked her, beating and raping her. He also stole her camera bag and threatened her again before fleeing. Another birdwatcher found her face-down in the ground, with a swollen face and black eye. Mitchell was quickly apprehended and it turned out that she had previously seen him masturbating in the park (she had taken his photograph then and he threatened her).
Mitchell, 43, agreed to a plea deal last week; the NY Times reports that Justice Bonnie G. Wittner gave him the "maximum she could give him under the terms of his plea bargain with the Manhattan district attorney’s office. 'For a plea bargain, this is one of the highest sentences I have ever given pretrial,' Justice Wittner said. 'My intention was to punish him and make sure he will never hurt any other person again.'"
The birdwatcher, now 74, described the horrific assault in her victim's impact statement: "That’s the vicious predator who committed the crime, sitting at the defense table... He attacked me in Central Park when I was doing what I love best, watching and attempting to photograph hummingbirds. He pounced from behind and smashed me into the ground... I screamed my head off and fought him face-to-face and tried to scratch him and poke his eyes out. He yanked my pants down and brutally raped me vaginally. Then he flipped over like a pancake and raped me anally like a rabid dog. When he was finished he smashed me back into the ground and said: ‘Don’t move and count to 100."
Twenty-five years ago, Mitchell had been charged with raping and killing an 86-year-old woman in West Virginia (but was acquitted) and was arrested for raping a woman in her 70s. A resident in Mitchell's old W.V. town said to the AP last year, "They ain't gonna trust him down here again. They're gonna end up killing him. To be honest with you, he needs to be put away for life."