Life term for girl's rape
"I could finally breathe."
That's how a 17-year-old Rochester girl described her feelings when the man accused of raping her on a city bike path 18 months ago was found guilty by a jury Monday afternoon.
The Olmsted County jury took only two hours to find Bruce Roy Tiedemann, 34, of Mazeppa guilty of two counts of first-degree and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. They also found that there were aggravating factors because Tiedemann used a knife and choked the girl.
Within 20 minutes of the reading of the verdict, Olmsted District Judge Debra Jacobson sentenced Tiedemann to a life prison term without the possibility of release. He is the first convicted sex offender in Olmsted County given that sentence under a five-year-old state law making it possible.
The victim was present when the verdicts were read, sitting with her mother and grandmother, and tightly clasping the hand of her victim advocate, Heather Christians, until the first guilty verdict was read.
"I was happy. I was overjoyed," she said during a later interview.
Tears flowed in the hallway outside the courtroom after Tiedemann was handed the prison sentence.
Inside the courtroom, others took time to shake hands with the lead police investigator, Eric Boynton.
Minutes before, it was quiet in the courtroom as the victim told how she still struggles with flashbacks and nightmares.
"A simple touch can bring flashbacks,'' she told the judge in a statement before sentencing. "I lay in bed and can't sleep, or I have nightmares about that horrific day and about the daily struggles."
She was 15 when she was attacked on June 11, 2008. She had just finished work at her summer job and was walking home, taking the same familiar route along a bike path. A man ran up behind her, pushed her against a wall on the path under U.S. 52 near U.S. 14, and started choking her. Then he held a knife to her throat.
She had been on the telephone talking to two friends in a three-way call. They heard her scream and a man threatening to kill her if she didn't shut up. Then the phone went dead. The friends immediately called 911.
He raped her off the trail in tall weeds and ran away. He concealed his face, but she saw his eyes.
Weeks later, when Tiedemann was charged with the assault, his picture was shown on television.
She saw the picture and knew immediately.
"Those eyes are the eyes that were burned into my mind,'' she said.
She saw those eyes again last week when she faced him in the courtroom for the first time. She was the first witness called. She said she focused on his face and on his hairy hands, the hands that were around her neck.
"I knew he was the man (who raped me)," she said. "I had no doubt. It made me sick. He showed no emotion.''