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A Virginia judge said the victim was at the forefront his mind when he sentenced her rapist to two years in prison on Monday.
Judge Charles Maxfield sentenced Jaiven Treyvon Knight, 21, to five years in prison, with three years suspended, in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court.
Knight, a 2013 William and Mary football recruit, was convicted by a jury in May of raping another student while she slept off an alcohol-induced blackout.
The victim, then a 20-year-old William and Mary junior, did not want Knight to get jail time, said defense attorney Patricia Nagel.
“She’s going to have to live with this the rest of her life. I think it would be harder on her if you serve full time,” Maxfield said to Knight before issuing his sentence.
“This is a crime not just against the victim, but against the state of Virginia. A sentence must reflect society’s rejection,” of the crime, Maxfield added.
Knight will also have to register as a sex offender and submit to 10 years of supervised probation when he gets out of prison, Maxfield said.
The sexual assault happened when Knight was attending a party at the victim’s Lafayette Street home in August 2013. Both Knight and the victim were intoxicated.
“This is a young lady who drank too much at her house and went to bed in her bedroom,” said Williamsburg-James City County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Cathy Black.
The jury recommended a five year sentence for Knight — the minimum punishment for rape in Virginia. Maxfield believes the jury would have asked for a lower sentence if they were able to.
Although the state’s sentencing guidelines suggest that a seven-year prison sentence is a low average for similar crimes, Maxfield suspended some of Knight’s punishment because of the victim’s wishes.
“He had sex with an unconscious girl. The fact that she had mercy for him does not take away from what he did to her,” Black said.
Although the victim reported the rape to Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center shortly after it happened, Knight was not arrested and charged until April 22, 2014.
In a victim questionnaire, the victim described waking up naked with a stranger on top of her. She later learned Knight’s name through other people.
“I screamed,” she wrote in the questionnaire. “I said, ‘Get out.’ He said ‘It’s fine.’ I said, ‘No. Get out.’”
Knight was originally tried in the case in February 2015, but the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict and a mistrial was declared.
During his second trial, on May 19 and 20, Knight was caught lying about his version of the night’s events “to bolster his testimony,” Maxfield said.
About 35 of Knight’s family and friends formed a large prayer circle in the hallway of Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court shortly before 1 p.m. Monday, when his sentencing was scheduled to begin.
More than 15 people offered character witnesses for Knight, describing him as a kind and loving person. They also affirmed their belief that he was innocent of the rape.
Many members of Knight’s inner circle cried during the pre-sentence report, including his grandmother, who broke down during her character witness and had to be escorted off the stand.
“Don’t let them break you son,” said Knight’s mother, Dora Lanier. “Although the court thinks they’ve won, God is going to have the last say.”