Demetrius Ballinger was sentenced to 36 years in prison after raping four teenage girls and holding 11 people hostage at gunpoint. The 26-year-old man’s actions also caused the police to kill one of the hostages while he was attempting to escape a motel room in Minnesota.
Ballinger was at a party in a room at the Red Roof Inn with six kids and five adults when he pulled out a fire arm and threatened to kill everyone in the room if they didn’t turn over their cash and phones. As one of the females was throwing her phone on the floor she dialed 911; which alerted the police to the incident.
Once the police arrived, one of the hostages attempted to run and Ballinger began shooting at him. Officers heard shots as the door opened and responded by firing back. At the time they didn’t know that this was one of the hostages and the 19-year-old victim, Mark Henderson, died at the hospital.
One of his rape victims was only 15 and the other three were 16. As a result of this heinous act these young ladies no longer want to leave the comfort of their homes for fear that Ballinger will escape prison, find and harm them. Even though the sexual assault took place in August 2012 their lives have been forever changed.
Rape is one of the worst things that a person can suffer and the effects can linger forever. The pain and suffering associated with rape are indescribable. When another person takes control of your body it robs you of your sense of safety and well being. Even though the road is often long it is still possible to heal after surviving sexual assault. It takes great determination, strength and time.
When a person is raped it severs their life in two parts; before and after the experience. The person you were before being sexually assaulted is often not the same person who survives the assault. Before the trauma people many people reported being confident, trusting and secure but afterwards many become angry, anxious and mistrusting. They turn into a ball of confusion that’s filled with constant pain.
As a result, many victims feel the need to reevaluate relationships with those around them. They’ve even been known to relocate or make other drastic life changes. These can be normal and healthy measures of healing but it’s important to make sure it’s not just an irrational decision due to the pain. The most important thing a rape victim can do in order to transition from being a victim to a survivor is to surround themselves with a strong support system.
Chris Rheault, of the Washington County hostage negotiation team, kept Ballinger distracted from harming the other hostages by talking about his son and other things in efforts to keep him calm. Rheault said Ballinger was emotionally unstable that night. He also said Ballinger told him that since he knew he was going to jail he might as well take them along with him.
The prosecutors got the exact sentence they requested. Initially Ballinger was charged with 27 counts but pleaded guilty to five felonies which included four counts of rape and attempted murder.
The plea agreement allowed the other 22 felonies to be dismissed. After 24 years, if Ballinger has good behavior, he will be eligible for release.
According to Pete Orput, Washington County Attorney, it will appear to some that this sentence was too severe for the crimes committed but anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault will undoubtedly feel differently.
Orput said at this point he’s got four teens whose lives have been sexually exploited and a young man who is dead. Demetrius Ballinger was sentenced to 36 years in prison after committing these crimes and according to Orput; the sentencing was fair and just.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)