01/31/12 — Rapist gets time in prison

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Rapist gets time in prison

By Staff Reports
Published in News on January 31, 2012 1:52 PM

The suspect in the 2010 rape of an 85-year-old woman just outside of Mount Olive pleaded guilty earlier this month in Duplin County Superior Court.

Romeo Villatoro will serve between 18 and 24 years in prison after pleading guilty on Jan. 18 to second-degree rape, attempted second-degree sexual offense, first-degree burglary, felony breaking and entering and two counts of felony possession of stolen property.

The decision to allow the defendant to plead guilty and not take the case to court was made, in part, because of the family's concerns about the victim's age and the toll that testifying in court might have taken on her.

"This is a tragic case in which a victim, who has lived a long, productive life, was faced with the nightmare of someone breaking and entering into her residence and then assaulting her," Duplin County District Attorney Ernie Lee said in a press release. "The victim's courage in reporting this incident and providing statements to law enforcement and medical personnel cannot be emphasized enough. A violent individual who assaulted an elderly lady is no longer a threat to others in Duplin County."

Villatoro was arrested on July 28, 2010, in New York three days after the incident occurred. He was returned to North Carolina by members of the Duplin County Sheriff's Office and the N.C. Bureau of Investigations on Aug. 4, 2010, and was held in the Duplin County Detention Center until he entered his guilty plea and was sentenced.