Man Who Raped Central Park Bird-Watcher Gets 30-Year Sentence

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Surveillance photo of Mitchell.

David Albert Mitchell, who pleaded guilty two weeks ago to raping a 74-year-old bird-watcher in Central Park, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison. His victim confronted him in court, describing the brutal September 2012 assault in detail and calling Mitchell a "sexual terrorist." "There is only one proper punishment for a terrorist. He must be locked away in a horrible prison for the rest of his life," she said. "You, David Albert Mitchell, for the pain you inflicted on me and, by association, on my loving family and friends, may you rot in hell for all eternity."

Mitchell, a 43-year-old drifter from West Virginia, has a long history of violence. At 18, he was charged with raping and killing an 86-year-old woman and sexually assaulting a woman in her 70s, but his was acquitted in the first case and the other charges were dropped in a plea bargain. In addition to the 2012 rape, Mitchell pleaded guilty to robbing the woman, and threatening to stab a performance artist in Central Park a month before the assault. "He finally met his match,” said one of the bird-watcher's friends. "This time he went after the wrong person."

Justice Bonnie G. Wittner said she gave Mitchell the maximum sentence possible under the terms of his plea bargain. "My intention was to punish him and make sure he will never hurt any other person again," she explained. "Based on my knowledge of him and his violent tendency, I don’t know if he will survive 30 years in prison."