Kareem Drayton, the 19-year-old who pleaded guilty to rape and robbery charges stemming from a crime spree last fall, was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison today before his family and about a dozen members of 48th Street Neighbors, a group formed in the wake of his crimes.
Before the sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Catherine Thurston read aloud statements from the victim of the highly publicized gunpoint mugging and rape last September near 48th and Springfield, and from the 48th Street Neighbors group.
“Though I am often troubled by the portion of the population in this country that are behind bars, Kareem Drayton needs to be separated from the rest of the population,” the victim wrote. “No one on earth is responsible for where he is today other than Kareem Drayton.”
The statement from the 48th Street Neighbors spoke about the sense of loss and insecurity in the community that followed the crimes. Along with the rape and robbery, Drayton also pleaded guilty to other gunpoint robberies and assaults. All of the victims later moved out of the neighborhood.
“There is a deep sense of pain, anger, and grief for many of us,” the group wrote. “In the end, this is a loss to Kareem as well.”
The full text of the statement is below.
Following the statements, Drayton stood, drew a deep breath and addressed the court, his family and community members.
“I would truly like to apologize to my victims and the community I hurt,” he said. “I am not the monster you think I am.”
Drayton said he was “under the influence” when he committed the crimes.
Judge Ann Butchart referred to the victim and community statements while sentencing Drayton.
“Compassion is one of the strengths of our city,” she said. “There is a tremendous degree of compassion from the victim and the community members. That compassion gives me hope for our city and hope for the defendants who come into my courtroom.”
The following is the text of the “impact statement” from the 48th Street Neighbors delivered during the sentencing of Kareem Drayton:
October 18th, 2012
To The Court and to Kareem Drayton:
I am writing on behalf of the 48th Street Neighbors, which is a group of people that has joined together to create a stronger community. We began in response to the crimes Kareem Drayton is being sentenced for today, and so it is particularly important that we tell the court that we are here in support of the victims, who were our neighbors, and the ways we have been affected by these crimes.
There has been a struggle to regain a sense of safety for us all, and a sense of loss. We are aware that all of the victims ended up moving out of the neighborhood, due to the trauma they suffered. That was a loss to us all, and to them. There is a deep sense of pain, anger, and grief for many of us.
In the end, this is a loss to Kareem as well. Our community is full of people who would give him so much more than their money or belongings, if given the opportunity. We are teachers, social workers, mentors, mothers, fathers and prayer warriors. We serve people just like Kareem as part of our daily lives. And now he will not have the opportunity to know us for who we are because of his choices. He has cut himself off from these particular victims in a very profound way. This is a deep tragedy.
Kareem, the material possessions that you gained through your crimes came at too high a cost. Your choice to ignore our humanity cost you too much of yours. Don’t allow anyone to encourage you to do that again, or to maintain that attitude towards us. It will cost you your soul. We can be so much more than how you see us, and you can be so much more than what you have allowed yourself to become. When you come out of prison, remember that about us, and yourself.
We look for justice in this case. Please consider the seriousness of these crimes, and how the victims’ lives have been forever changed, and what they have lost as well as what we have lost as a community. Also, there are those of us who are praying for you Kareem, to turn and be changed to be a real man, one who can handle the truth about those around him and himself. Our hope is that what is decided here will serve both of those purposes.
48th Street Neighbors