COLUMBUS (AP) — A former Ohio State University drum major instructor accused of raping a female student was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual battery and apologizing to the victim in court.
A Franklin County judge heard from the young woman and 29-year-old Stewart Kitchen before sentencing him. He also must register as a sex offender every 90 days for life.
The woman said Kitchen was a coach — not a date or a friend — who abused his authority and assaulted her at his Columbus home in April 2015 despite her saying no and pleading to stop, then later tried to manipulate how she recalled and described what happened. He’d gone out drinking, and she had met him only in hopes of discussing summer practice, she said, noting that she had no more than one drink and had her wits about her but was “frozen in fear.”
“I said ‘no,’” the woman said. “No means no. I said, ‘Take me home.’ That means take me home. … I said ‘Do not have sex with me.’”
She recounted how she left the university with a damaged sense of safety and self-confidence and saw ripple effects in her relationships with friends and her own attitudes. The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify sexual assault victims.
Kitchen said he takes responsibility for making poor decisions and acknowledged that the woman did nothing wrong but still suffers because of what happened.
“I am sorry, I truly am,” he said in court to the woman, who didn’t acknowledge him. “I didn’t mean to put you through that.”
Assistant Prosecutor Robert Letson had urged the judge not to give too much weight to letters that were submitted by Kitchen’s family, friends and other supporters in defense of his character. Some pointed out that he’d used alcohol as a way of coping with his late mother’s cancer diagnosis in 2014, and one noted that earlier that year he’d also taken “very personally” the fallout from a compliance investigator’s report concluding there was a “sexualized culture” in Ohio State’s celebrated marching band.
Letson said there was an incorrect sense in some of the letters that what happened between Kitchen and the woman was a crime because Kitchen was employed by the university.
“It’s a crime because he sexually assaulted her in this case,” Letson said. “It’s not just based on employment. It’s based on coercion.”
The judge said Kitchen will be on parole for five years after he is released from prison.