JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - A Charleston County jury found 49-year-old James Lewis Alexander, Jr. guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the first-degree regarding a 2008 rape behind a James Island Bar.
Circuit Judge Deadra Jefferson sentenced Alexander to six years in prison.
"The jury saw through the defense's repeated attempts to 'blame the victim' for this brutal rape," Solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson said. "Even after the defendant testified in his own defense, the jury voted to convict him of using aggravated force in raping the victim. During the beating, the victim suffered severe bruising on her abdomen and with over 20 bruises and lacerations all over her body. Her condition after the rape spoke volumes."
On Oct. 12, 2008, the victim was raped behind the Island Bar and Grill at 815 Folly Road on James Island.
The victim, her sister and another friend went to the bar for a night of karaoke. After the bar closed, the sisters and another friend realized the victim's cell phone was inside the bar.
The victim tried to go back into the club through the front door but it was locked to customers. While the sister and the friend went to a neighboring barbershop to use the phone, the victim went around to the back door of the bar to try to get inside to look for her phone.
Authorities say on her way to the back of the building, Alexander followed her and somehow knocked her unconscious. According to court documents, the victim regained consciousness to find herself behind a wall in a trash pile with Alexander on top of her forcing sexual intercourse. The victim said she fought with Alexander and begged him to stop. The victim testified that she thought she was going to die during the ordeal.
After the attack, authorities say Alexander ran to the neighboring barbershop where he was seen by the victim's sister and friend before riding away on a bicycle.
Alexander was later identified by the victim, her sister and their friend. DNA evidence recovered from the victim further identified Alexander as the attacker. Investigators say Alexander's story about the rape changed as evidence developed.
Assistant Solicitors Timmy Finch and Spencer Compton prosecuted the case.
Finch stated that "Prior to the collection of his DNA sample, Alexander was proclaiming his innocence and was confident the DNA would 'clear' him. After the DNA evidence led to his identification, he changed his story to 'consent.' During the trial the consent defense evolved to an ridiculous scenario that did not hold water in light of the physical injuries to the victim and other eyewitness testimony."
Compton added, "The victim's story was supported eyewitness testimony and strong circumstantial evidence. However, the crucial link came from the victim's own bravery and wherewithal to follow through with prosecution and hold Alexander accountable for the assault."
The jury returned its verdict early Thursday after deliberating approximately two hours after the close of the case Wednesday afternoon. The jury had the option of convicting the defendant of the lesser offense of aggravated assault but instead convicted the defendant of the more serious offense of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Alexander has a criminal history dating back to 1981. After the verdict was returned, Alexander pled to another, pending charge of receiving stolen goods.