Mandan Lyft driver sentenced to 20 years for sexual assault of passenger
A woman who was sexually assaulted by a Lyft driver in August said her decision to use the ride-hailing service "turned out to be a life-altering nightmare."
The woman gave a statement on Wednesday, May 1, at the sentencing hearing for 39-year-old Corey Wickham. In January, a jury convicted Wickham of two felony counts of sexual assault.
Wickham picked up the woman from a bar in Mandan early Aug. 25, according to court documents. He drove her to her residence and sexually assaulted her inside his vehicle.
The woman said in court Wednesday she had gone out that night with friends and used Lyft because she knew she was going to be drinking. That night turned into something she would "never forget."
In the courtroom on Wednesday, the woman said she was questioned during Wickham's trial in January about what she had been wearing that night, if she was drunk or "came on" to Wickham.
"What you see today is the exact outfit I had on that night," she said. "The same shoes, the same makeup and the same jeans that are still blood-stained on the inside. If this type of clothing suggests that women are asking to be violated, then our community has a much larger epidemic occurring."
Wickham also gave a statement in a packed courtroom that consisted of family members and friends of both the victim and Wickham.
"I am sorry for my behavior that I displayed at your expense," Wickham said, addressing the victim. "I am both regretful and extremely apologetic to you for my actions."
Patrick Waters, Burleigh County Assistant assistant state's attorney, recommended Wickham be sentenced to 25 years in prison, because "his criminal conduct caused serious harm to the victim."
The woman said she now attends counseling weekly and has suffered from some medical issues.
"The victim did everything right ... She acted responsibly in every sense of the word. Mr Wickham was in a position where he was also responsible for her safety. He was responsible for getting her home safe on Aug. 25; he failed that responsibility," Waters said.
Wickham's attorney, James Loraas, said in court that Wickham "does have remorse," despite Waters stating that Wickham has "accepted absolutely no responsibility for his actions."
Loraas said Wickham has "a minimal criminal history" and is not at risk of re-offending.
"Therefore, we respectfully request leniency in sentencing, and that he be allowed a period of incarceration that would be the minimum under the law," Loraas said.
Wickham was charged with two counts of gross sexual imposition, one of which is a class AA felony, which comes with a mandatory minimum prison requirement of 20 years.
South Central District Judge Gail Hagerty on Wednesday sentenced Wickham to a total of 20 years in prison on both counts.