PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/AP) - A Rhode Island man convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in 2007 will be spending the next several decades behind bars.
Jason Nickerson, 31, was sentenced Tuesday to 60 years, 50 to serve, for four counts of sexual assault. He was also sentenced to 20 years to serve concurrently for assault with a dangerous weapon, choking.
The judge also ordered Nickerson to undergo sex offender, substance abuse, and anger management counseling, and must register as a sex offender upon his release from the ACI.
He was found guilty in April of this year in connection with the 2007 assault.
Authorities maintained Nickerson picked up the girl in Providence on June 30, 2007, drove her to a parking lot and sexually assaulted and beat her for more than three hours.
The case went cold for years, until prosecutors said DNA linked Nickerson to the crime.
The victim, now 21, and Nickerson testified at the April trial. Nickerson said he hired the girl as a prostitute.
Under state law, Nickerson had to submit a DNA sample after pleading no contest to second-degree robbery in 2010 in an unrelated case. A little more than two months later, a DNA match linked Nickerson to the assault in Providence and another in Connecticut, according to a police affidavit.
Prosecutors have said they do not recall another cold case involving sexual assault going to trial with DNA evidence obtained under the law, which has been on the books since 1998.
Investigators had little to work with before the DNA match.
"DNA has become one of the most reliable pieces of evidence in criminal investigations and prosecutions. Not only does it provide the opportunity for more efficient investigations, it also provides for more effective investigations by assisting in cold cases, such as this one," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
The teen was picked up, driven around for about 30 minutes before the driver stopped in a parking lot, locked the doors and demanded oral sex, an affidavit said.
The girl didn't know where she was, police have said. She tried to escape but was punched repeatedly in the head and told that if she continued to resist, she and her family would be killed, the affidavit said.
After three hours, the teen was driven elsewhere and ordered out of the vehicle. The man took her cell phone and handbag and threatened her again, the affidavit said. She called a friend, who picked her up, and police were called. She was taken to Hasbro Children's Hospital, where a rape kit examination was performed.
The results had shown an unknown single male donor DNA profile and were entered into the CODIS database in 2007.
A few days later, police said the girl was shown a number of photo arrays, but she could not identify her attacker. There were no developments for three years.
Nickerson remained free, but not out of trouble.
In 2008, Nickerson was arrested a few weeks after an East Greenwich bank was robbed when police got a tip that his wife was bragging about her husband making off with thousands of dollars in a bank holdup, police have said.
After Nickerson pleaded no contest in the bank robbery case, a DNA match came back linking him to the two sex assaults, an affidavit said. The victim in the Connecticut case, however, did not want to go forward, police said.
IN 2011, a grand jury indicted Nickerson in the 2007 sexual assault. About a month later, he was indicted in a separate case accusing him of domestic sexual assault.
Nickerson has pleaded not guilty in the domestic sexual assault case.
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