Convicted rapist and former UCSB soccer player Eric Frimpong was sentenced to six years in a state penitentiary on March 10, drawing scores of Frimpong’s supporters and local media to the hearing.
Presiding Judge Brian Hill sentenced Frimpong, who was convicted of felony rape on Dec. 17, 2007, and opted not to allot him the maximum punishment of eight years nor the minimum amount of three years. Hill cited the cruel, vicious and callous nature of the crime as reasoning behind his decision, but said that the lack of any criminal record prevented him from imposing the maximum sentence. Defense Attorney Robert Sanger, however, mentioned his intention to file an appeal against the outcome of the trial.
Prior to issuing his ruling, Hill allowed the prosecution to call witnesses to comment on Frimpong’s sentencing. The victim’s father was the first to issue a statement and was followed by a prepared statement by the victim, which was read aloud by a member of the district attorney’s office. The victim and her family were present in the courtroom.
During his address to the court, the victim’s father expressed his relief that the year-long ordeal was coming to an end.
“I’m glad this is nearly over,” he said. “It has been a tough year. [My daughter] was in the prime of her life and it was ruined. I think it is now time she can start to heal.”
The victim’s statements followed in a similar vein, stating that Frimpong’s actions have caused serious pain in her life.
“Eric Frimpong ruined my life,” the victim’s statement read. “He raped … and strangled me, and for over a year, my character has been called into question. It’s really not for anyone else to say, because I was there and they weren’t.”
Later, the victim’s father called into question the media’s role in covering the trial.
“The media [has] tracked this like some Ivy League school B-movie,” he said.
The father asked the court to impose the maximum sentence, and said that he hopes upon release, Frimpong will be deported from the country. Frimpong was born and raised in Ghana.
The courtroom was standing-room only, and TV cameras filmed the proceedings for local news outlets. Much of the UCSB soccer team was in attendance, along with many other supporters of Frimpong. On numerous occasions, Hill breached the subject of the defendant’s strong community support, but dismissed that as a reason for shortening the sentence.
Frimpong appeared stoic throughout the hearing and sentencing. Many of Frimpong’s friends and allies, however, were overwhelmed with emotion following the hearing.
Supporters of Frimpong distributed a self-produced press release to media covering the event that insisted on their claim of Frimpong’s innocence.
“Eric Frimpong is an innocent man,” the press release said. “He has been wrongfully prosecuted and convicted of a rape he did not commit. From the moment this very drunk girl, a girl who admitted she had ‘chunks of memory missing’ as to what happened, made allegations of rape, Eric [Frimpong] has been treated unfairly by Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s detectives, the district attorney’s office and the court.”
Hill, prior to discussing the sentencing, stood by the jury’s ruling once more.
“I am convinced, beyond any doubt, that the jury reached the correct decision,” Hill said.