Man found guilty of 1998 rape in Indianapolis sentenced to 70 years in prison

Donald Thomas (Photo provided by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department via the IndyStar)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – More than 20 years after raping an Indianapolis woman, a man has been sentenced to 70 years in prison.

Donald Thomas was convicted of the 1998 rape and criminal deviate conduct after a two-day jury trial on Aug. 1.

“We are pleased with the sentence ordered today. The defendant had 20 years of undeserved freedom before justice was served,” said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry on Friday.

Prosecutors say the sexual assault happened inside the victim’s apartment in the 8600 block of Rook Road in Sept. of 1998. On the day of the assault, Thomas reportedly asked the victim he could use her phone. He was subsequently allowed inside, attempted to make a phone call and left.

Thomas returned a short time later and placed a gun to the victim’s head before sexually assaulting her, according to prosecutors. He then left through the front door. Fearing that Thomas was still outside her apartment, the victim jumped from her second floor balcony to escape and call for help.

The initial investigation failed to develop sufficient evidence to pursue a criminal case, but in Dec. of 2015, cold case investigators with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department reviewed the case and submitted for testing of the DNA evidence collected during the initial investigation.

In Oct. of 2016, investigators were notified of a DNA match, which identified Thomas as the suspect. Further investigation continued through Jan. of 2018, when Thomas was arrested in Wisconsin and extradited to Marion County to stand trial.

“The victim in this matter endured 21 years without the perpetrator being held accountable, and we are pleased that the perseverance of our deputy prosecutors and IMPD investigators has resulted in justice for her,” Prosecutor Curry stated at the time the verdict was returned. “As the victim stated at the completion of trial, this verdict represents the first day of the rest of her life.”

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