Sex Offender Convicted of Stranger Rape - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

05/24/06 - Nacogdoches

Sex Offender Convicted of Stranger Rape

by Donna McCollum

Rape Conviction 

Registered sex offender Thomas Carnes will be spending the rest of his life in prison for the rape of an 18 year old woman. The 42-year-old was convicted and sentenced Wednesday in Nacogdoches. Two years ago his victim had been hitchhiking on Highway 59 and accepted a ride from him at a grocery store. Clerks who work there wrote down his license plate number out of concern for the woman. That information led to his arrest. Carnes had prior sexual assault convictions in Panola County and Maryland. He was also on probation.

Stranger Rape

This particular case is considered a 'stranger rape'.   Nacogdoches County's Victims Assistance Coordinator Codi Kerss comforts alleged sexual assault victims, but stranger rape cases seldom cross her desk. "Stranger rape, no most of the time it is somebody they know. Somebody they're acquainted with. Rarely do we see somebody that sneaks up behind somebody and grabbed them or you hear of instances where somebody is yanked into a car and taken off. It doesn't happen very often," said Kerss.

Only one third of the rapes reported are stranger rapes. In all the others the victim knows their attacker. The assaults are different in nature, but have a significant similarity. "It is prevalent in our society to first blame the woman," said Judy May, the sexual assault educator for the Women's Shelter of East Texas. She says women are often blamed for being too trusting.   "Especially at stranger rape. They (attacker) are very, very good about making you feel comfortable like you don't need to be walking, that's dangerous."

Yet people have a tendency to ask of victims why were the hitchhiking, why did they accept a ride from a stranger. Another comment heard is if they hadn't been in that club wearing sexy clothes they wouldn't have been raped. But a victim's bad choice doesn't justify rape.   May said, "Rape is not a crime of passion and lust. It's a crime of power and control. It's got nothing to do with how a person looks or how they act. If it did then six month old babies would not be raped. 92-year old grandmothers in their granny gowns would not be raped."

Prevention 

Yet women should trust their intuitions. Seventy one percent of rapes are planned. There are ways women can avoid a dangerous situation. Women should never accept an opened drink from anyone. Ask for an escort if you find your vehicle is parked by a sliding door van. Use the buddy system when going places. Know your surroundings. Know where you are at all times. Never accept or ask for a ride from a stranger. Let other people know where you are.   

Educate yourself concerning rape prevention tactics. Become familiar with community rape prevention and counseling. Become aware of locations and situations where rape is more likely to occur and avoid them, or take precautions.

Safety at your residence

When moving into a new home or apartment make sure the locks are replaced or rekeyed. It is recommended that a 1" deadbolt lock us used. It is also recommended that if there is no door viewer to have one put in. Do not open the door unless you know who is there. Keep doors locked at all times. Never open the door after a knock. Require the person to give their name. In the case of service persons ask for proper i.d. And refuse entrance if you feel uneasy. If you feel threatened yell or scream to attract attention. Never admit you are alone. If you are living alone use only your last name and first initial on your mail box. You may also want to make a name up and put it on your mailbox to give the appearance of a roommate. All entrances and garages should be well-lit. Keep one light on inside the house at night. Hang up on any obscene phone calls.

On the street safety tips

Do not walk alone. Always stay in well lighted areas. Do not take short cuts where you would be in a deserted area. Walk near the curb and avoid passing close to shrubbery, dark doorways and other places of concealment. Do not hitchhike. If someone in a car ask for assistance do not get close to the car. If a car approaches you and you feel threatened, scream and run in the direction opposite of the one the car is going. If you feel you are being followed go to the nearest open business, police department, fire department, or any area where other people will be. Call the police from there. If you carry a purse, hold it close to your body. Have your key ready to enter your residence or car.

Driving safety tips

Never pick up hitchhikers. Always keep your car doors locked. When parking at night, select a place that will be well-lit when returning to the car. Look in back seat and floor board before entering your car. When approaching your car in a parking lot look all around the area for anything that does not look right. If you see anything that looks suspicious near your car keep going and call the police as soon as possible. If you can get in your car safely, lock the doors and go somewhere and contact the police about your suspicions. Keep gas above 1/4 tank. When ever possible travel on well lighted streets. If you are ever being followed go to the nearest police department, fire department, or open business. If vehicle pulls in behind you and you do not know the individual blow the car horn to attract attention. Do not get out of car until you are safe. If your car is being repaired leave only the car keys with the repair shop. If you are having car problems and can not raise the hood, stay in the car and wait for help. If someone stops to help, roll down the window just enough to talk to them and ask them to call a relative, friend, garage or the police for you.

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