Bray to serve 25 years for rape, judge rules

Published Sep 28, 2012 at 09:51PM

Thomas Bray will spend the next 25 years in prison for raping a woman he met on an online dating service, Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Tiktin ruled today.

Bray, 38, was convicted in July on two counts each of first-degree rape and sodomy, strangulation and fourth-degree assault in connection with the February 2011 incident. A former anesthesiologist and part-time instructor at Central Oregon Community College at the time, Bray and the then 23-year-old woman he’d met on Match.com met for a drink at a downtown Bend restaurant, then went to his nearby apartment, where he repeatedly assaulted her over five hours.

Hearing the verdict Friday afternoon, Bray nodded in reply to Tiktin’s asking him if he was indeed 38 years old. Dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit, his hands and feet shackled, Bray then shook slightly when the judge told him he will remain in prison into his 60s.

The woman addressed the court earlier in the day, delivering a prepared statement read off a tablet computer while asking Tiktin to impose the maximum sentence allowable.

Describing herself as “one of the brave ones,” she spoke of the many rape and sexual assault victims who never come forward to tell authorities they’ve been victimized. She said her rape was a crime not just against her, but against the community, and that if Bray was shown leniency, he would rape again.

The woman said she’s constantly fighting depression and post traumatic stress disorder, and has found it difficult to relate to people since she was raped. Reporting a rape and going to trial is a process “filled with adversity and humiliation,” she said, where she’s had to relive the night of the attack over and over.

“Each time my wounds are ripped open anew, each time I must begin the healing process again,” she said.

As he had previously in the trial, Bray declined an opportunity to address the court.

In announcing Bray’s sentence, Tiktin said that despite hours of testimony throughout the trial, he still felt like he didn’t know much about Bray. Descriptions of Bray provided by family and friends who spoke on his behalf were “vividly at odds” with the evidence presented in the trial, Tiktin said.

The judge recalled the text messages and emails sent between Bray and a second woman, a student in his class at COCC whom he had dated during the month before his arrest on rape charges. Prosecutors filed five charges against Bray for raping, choking and assaulting the student during their one-month relationship, but were unable to secure a conviction.

The often sexually explicit communications sent between Bray and the student, Tiktin said, “reveal a man who is obsessed with the idea of...dominating women and inflicting pain and the sexual gratification it gave him.”

Tiktin also recalled the sequence of events described by the woman who was raped by Bray after accompanying him back to his apartment. After shoving her to his bed and raping her during a tour of his apartment, Bray had a period of time where he could have realized he’d made a mistake, Tiktin said.

Instead, Bray continued berating her and told her he would invite his neighbor over to rape her as well. Bray ate a bowl of cereal and ordered her to make his bed, Tiktin said, then raped her a second time.

The second assault, the basis for the second rape charge and the two sodomy charges, was arguably more serious and invasive than the initial rape, Tiktin said.

Defense attorney Stephen Houze’s proposed a 10-year sentence, under which Bray would have served 10 years in prison for the initial rape, and three concurrent 10-year sentences for the second rape and the two sodomy charges, would have diminished the seriousness of Bray’s second assault against the woman, Tiktin said.

“You don’t get three forcible sex crimes for free,” said Tiktin.

Bray was ordered to pay compensation of more than $112,000 to the victim, who has filed a separate suit against him seeking $1.975 million in damages.

Deschutes County District Attorney Patrick Flaherty said he was happy with the outcome, and relieved to have put a challenging case requiring a great deal of work by his office and the Bend Police Department behind him.

“We’re pleased,” he said. “I think that 25 years is justice.”

Flaherty had originally sought an 83-year, four-month sentence for Bray, relying on an interpretation of a ballot measure approved by voters in 2010 that mandated minimum 25-year prison terms for repeat offenders of certain felony sex crimes.

Friday morning, Tiktin ruled that although Bray raped and assaulted the woman multiple times, his actions constituted a single criminal episode. As a result, Bray could not be considered a repeat offender, Tiktin said, and could not receive the 25-year terms Flaherty had sought for the second rape and the two sodomy charges.