'Worst nightmare' for women sentenced for two stranger rapes in Norwich

Thirty-five year-old Edward J. Simpson, described by a prosecutor as a rape victim's "worst nightmare," was sentenced in New London Superior Court Monday to 12 years in prison for sexually assaulting two strangers he accosted on streets in Norwich in September 2016.

One of the female victims, who was 62, suffered life threatening injuries after Simpson jumped her from behind on a Greeneville street in the early morning hours of Sept. 17, 2016. He beat her and sexually assaulted her for approximately an hour, telling her at one point that he was a disturbed person who had been raped as a child.

The other, aged 24, was attacked at about 10 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2016, as she stood waiting for a ride near the intersection of West Thames Street and Trading Cove Drive.  She said Simpson punched her in the face, knocked her to the ground, forced her to walk to a commercial parking lot and was groping her when she received a phone call, yelled for help and told Simpson her father was in the area.

Norwich police officers, who had used surveillance camera footage, phone records, DNA and other investigative techniques to solve the case, attended the sentencing before Judge Hillary B. Strackbein. Simpson had pleaded guilty under the Alford Doctrine to aggravated first-degree sexual assault and third-degree sexual assault. The Alford plea indicated he does not agree with the state's version of the case but does not want to risk going to trial, where he could receive a harsher sentence if convicted.

Both of the victims remain badly traumatized, and it would have been difficult to have them face Simpson in a courtroom and testify about the rapes, according to prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla. He and defense attorney Daryl Justin Finizio worked out a plea deal involving a sentence of 20 years in prison, suspended after 12 years served, followed by 10 years of probation. Upon his release from prison, Simpson will be required to register for life as a sexual offender.

At the time of his arrest, Simpson was on probation for exposing himself, while masturbating, to a female while seated in his Buick LaCrosse, according to police. He had worked as a chef at Mohegan Sun and in other culinary positions.

"This is the stereotype that people think of when they think of a rapist," said Tytla. "This is the stranger on the street. The worst nightmare."

The 62-year-old woman was beaten and raped in the area of Eighth and Roosevelt streets at about 3 a.m. on Sept. 17, 2016. She told police she had walked from her home to get a pack of cigarettes at the Ravi Mart at 243 Central Ave.  She said when she left the store, the assailant, driving a light colored four-door sedan, offered her a ride, which she refused, then began following her on foot as she walked across the Eighth Street bridge.

She said he jumped her from behind and punched her in the face approximately eight times with a closed fist and sexually assaulted her for about an hour, stopping at one point to say he was a disturbed person who had been raped as a child. She said he offered her $20 and helped her find her keys, telling her, "You go your way and I'll go mine. You are not to call the authorities."

She suffered traumatic brain injuries, including bleeding on the brain, heart damage, cuts and scratches to the body and a broken nose. She went home after the attack and told her son about it, and the next morning, they approached an officer who was working in the area. Her son took her to The William W. Backus Hospital, where she was admitted to the critical care unit with life-threatening injuries.

Both of the women described their attacker as a light-skinned black man.

Police used video from surveillance cameras at the Greeneville Fire Department, the Ravi Mart on Central Avenue and a nearby business, Providence Lacquer, to identify a silver Buick LaCrosse as the suspect's car and establish a timeline of its movements. After identifying Simpson as a suspect in both cases, they seized his phone, using information from the device's "internal GPS" to track his movements and analyzing his texts and calls. After the victim told police that her attacker had handled her keychain during the attack, police submitted it for testing and said it contained "touch DNA" left behind by Simpson.

Phone records revealed that Simpson texted somebody described only as "Witness 3" shortly after the first attack, that, "I did something wrong" and "I bloodied someone really, really bad," according to an affidavit. The police discovered after analyzing his texts that prior to the assault, Simpson had tried unsuccessfully to have sex with two people, identified only as "Witness 4" and "Witness 5."

As Simpson was led back into the courthouse holding area Monday, a little girl on her mother's lap yelled, "I love you, daddy," and he responded, "I love you more."

k.florin@theday.com 

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