Ex-cop convicted of raping waitress sentenced to life

October 8, 2012 2:46:40 PM PDT
A former Houston police officer has been sentenced to life in prison for raping a waitress while he was on duty.

Before his sentencing, the jury heard from several other women who say ex-HPD officer Abraham Joseph did the same thing to them.

It took jurors about five hours to reach a verdict of two counts of life in prison. Many people in and around the courtroom were surprised by it; it's the harshest punishment the jury could have given by law.

"We the jury having found the defendant Abraham Joseph guilty of aggravated sexual assault by a public servant assess his punishment of confinement in the institution of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life," read the judge.

Joseph stared as if in shock as he learned his fate. The former Houston police officer raped a waitress while on duty in January 2011. He never took the stand at his trial and he broke down crying Monday when the judge gave him an opportunity to speak.

With one last look, Joseph walked out of the courtroom and into custody. His family gathered in the hallway, clinging to each other for support.

Joseph faced between five years and life in prison on both charges of aggravated sexual assault. The defense asked for probation and the state requested life.

During the trial, the judge allowed testimony from a second waitress who works at the same bar and says Joseph did the same thing to her.

During the punishment phase of the proceeding, jurors heard from three more waitresses who testified Joseph would troll two specific cantinas, often hitting on waitresses and that he would pull them over after a night of work and then rape them.

These women all happen to be in the U.S. illegally, a point the prosecution tried to drive home, and the fact that Joseph preyed on victims who were scared of deportation so they would do what he told them.

On Friday, Joseph's wife tearfully testified, asking the jury for leniency, saying that he had admitted to having extramarital sex, but that he was remorseful and that she has forgiven him.

Eyewitness News spoke with Joseph's attorney after the verdict was handed down.

"I'm not surprised by the sentence in light of the accusations that came out in punishment. You know obviously we're disappointed in the verdict, but the jurors have a very hard job to do. They listened carefully to the evidence and I have a lot of faith in our criminal justice system and I appreciate their hard work and their time," said defense attorney Nicole Deborde.

Prosecutors thank the victim for speaking out.

"Without her, who knows the extent of the damage done in this city. The people in it, they may not know her and they probably never will, but they owe her an incredible debt of gratitude that will probably never be paid," said prosecutor Heyward Carter.

"With him going away for life, we feel secure that the community is protected now," prosecutor Eric Bily said.

Joseph is expected to file an appeal.

The two life sentences will be served concurrently. Joseph will be eligible for parole in 30 years.

Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for the latest on this story.

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