Crime - Sacto 911

Defendant sentenced for rape of 14-year-old girl in 1997, when he was also 14

A 35-year-old man was sentenced Friday for a rape he committed two decades ago, when he was 14 and so was the victim.

Joseph Brian Cox pleaded guilty last month to two counts of forcible rape for a crime he committed in 1997. The case had remained unsolved until investigators tested DNA on a cigarette butt left at the scene, and it led them to Cox.

In 1997, Cox was 14 and deeply entangled in what his lawyer, Jess Bedore, called a “drug world,” when he broke into a home and held a mother and her daughters, 11 and 14, at gunpoint.

Wearing a mask, Cox tied up the mother and 11-year-old with rope and tape. He raped the older girl, ransacked the house and fled, prosecutors said.

The victim of Cox’s attack, who came with her sister to the sentencing, said she was relieved the wait for justice was finally over.

“There is a lot of closure,” said the woman, now a teacher, who is not being named because she was a victim of a sexual assault. “No more wondering. No more what ifs.”

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Marjorie Koller sentenced Cox to 20 years in state prison, noting that Cox had waived his right to appeal the case.

“The time the defendant received is light. He deserves much more,” Koller said. “The victims deserve much more, but this phase will be over without years of appeals.”

Cox could have received a life sentence had he been found guilty at trial, said Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Matt Chisholm.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith