Victim confronts convicted rapist at sentencing
The woman Nashane Peterkin raped in the woods in Valley Stream State Park -- breaking her nose and nearly all her ribs -- faced her attacker in court Thursday to tell him he hadn't broken everything.
"I have discovered an inner strength that has restored my dignity," the 61-year-old victim said of the pain and humiliation she'd overcome since the Labor Day weekend assault.
"You told me not to tell and yet I stand before you now stronger than ever, while your life has already become a living hell," she told Peterkin, before a Nassau County judge sentenced the Queens teenager to 20 years in prison.
The petite blonde woman wore a dark business suit and spoke gracefully from a podium, as Peterkin, 17, sat in handcuffs across the Mineola courtroom, eyes cast down.
"You'll have a lot of time to think about the pain you inflicted on so many people," the woman continued, calling Peterkin a coward and bully who would go "from predator to prey" in prison.
"As it says in the Bible, a man reaps what he sows," she said.
The sentencing followed Peterkin's December guilty plea in connection with the park assault and an attack on a pregnant woman walking home from the Valley Stream train station in August.
Police arrested Peterkin, then 16, in September after DNA and a witness identification linked him to the crimes.
Investigators recovered Peterkin's DNA from a necklace the pregnant victim pulled off him and later matched that to DNA evidence from the park attack, according to a law enforcement source.
After his September arrest, police dubbed the Springfield Gardens youth a "serial sexual predator." Authorities said Thursday that Peterkin had previously been convicted as a juvenile of three separate sexual assaults in Queens at the age of 15.
"Women, in general, are not safe with him on the streets," Assistant District Attorney Amanda Burke told Nassau County Judge Angelo Delligatti Thursday.
In the Nassau cases, Peterkin pleaded guilty to charges including first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse and assault.
Burke said a psychologist diagnosed Peterkin last year with sexual sadism disorder and conduct disorder.
Peterkin did not speak at the sentencing. Defense attorney Michael Dreishpoon, of Forest Hills, Queens, declined to comment after the sentencing.
In the August attack, authorities said Peterkin tried to rape a 30-year-old woman who was seven months pregnant. He was riding a bicycle and grabbed her while pedaling by, but police said the victim fought back and Peterkin fled.
Authorities also had investigated Peterkin in connection with a Lynbrook assault that happened minutes before the incident near the train station, but said there wasn't enough evidence to link him to that crime.
In sentencing Peterkin, the judge said the criminal justice system failed in its previous dealings with him, and the Nassau attacks might not have happened if his crimes had been dealt with in a different way.
Delligatti said he knew of no sentence he could impose that would be sufficient to punish Peterkin for what the victims endured.
Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice released a statement saying the trauma Peterkin inflicted would never be erased, but he would be in prison for a long time and wouldn't be able to terrorize the victims or violate a community's sense of safety.
The woman Peterkin attacked while she hiked alone in the park said in court she thought he deserved harsher punishment. But she told him he'd have to fight for his survival during 20 years in prison.
She said that as the door of his prison cell was swinging closed, a new door was opening for her as a rape survivor who would work as an advocate for other victims.