Transient sentenced to 11 years for beating, raping woman

SAN DIEGO - A transient who beat and raped a woman he had just met near Old Town, then stole her belongings, was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years in state prison.

Judge Louis Hanoian also ordered Michael Tesfa to register as a sex offender for life.

"You're a serious danger to society," the judge told the 22-year-old defendant,

 When Tesfa told the judge to "hurry up" and hand down his sentence, Hanoian told him, "You'll get to prison soon enough."

Tesfa was convicted last month of forcible rape, robbery and false imprisonment. Jurors acquitted him of kidnapping for rape.

Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth McClutchey told jurors that Tesfa dragged the victim from a streetside bench on Pacific Highway last March 18 to a dirty, urine-soaked alcove behind Perry's Cafe where homeless people hang out.

McClutchey said Tesfa beat and sexually assaulted the woman, then stole her clothes and cellphone.

Police arrested him in a nearby riverbed a short time later.

The 30-year-old victim said her life has been on hold—she's been unable to work or maintain a school schedule—since Tesfa beat, raped and robbed her.

She acknowledged Tesfa's rough childhood but said that what he did to her was not OK.

"The world has wronged you, but that doesn't give you the right to hurt someone," she told the defendant. "Guess what, Mr. Tesfa. I fought you and I won."

Tesfa, who represented himself, told the jury that the woman wanted to meet somebody and was lying about being raped to "make me look bad."

The victim testified that she was sitting on a bench in front of the cafe—which was closed—drinking wine that she had purchased at a local store when Tesfa came up and asked what she was drinking.

She said Tesfa was pleasant at first and she shared some wine and let him give her a brief kiss. She said she flirted with the defendant a little, but he became annoying and as she tried to leave, he grabbed her arm and took her to the dark alcove behind the cafe, where she was shoved to the ground, beaten and raped.

According to court testimony, Tesfa's DNA was found in samples taken from the victim.

Tesfa—who said he was homeless— testified that he was under the influence of alcohol when he and the victim had consensual sex.

"She came on to me," he said. "I guess you gotta get what you can get."

He said the woman didn't seemed satisfied following the encounter and started screaming, so he scooped up her property and took off running.

McClutchey told the jury that Tesfa  had no alcohol in his system when tested five hours after the assault.

"He disarmed her with his charm," the prosecutor told the judge today. "He brutalized her."
 

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