62-year-old Albert Tarrats was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Monday for raping his step-daughter. The rape took place over 10 years ago and only came to light recently after the victim wrote about it in a college application essay.
The unnamed victim wrote about the rape for an essay prompt about difficult events in her life. When her mother read her daughter’s submission, she immediately contacted a rape hotline and was put in contact with police.
During the ensuing trial, Tarrats requested clemency and denied ever abusing his step-daughter. He was found guilty nonetheless and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The victim wrote in a letter that finally speaking out about the abuse has helped her gain closure.
"Getting closure and justice on this horrible situation is the best thing I could have gotten from this experience," she wrote. "I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I feel a lot happier than before. I will not forget what happened, but I will move on from it."
Tarrats’ lawyer says his client plans to appeal the conviction.
“He denies he committed the crime,” attorney Ernest Hammer said, adding that the case is “a difficult matter and a very, very unattractive one.”
The victim now lives in Florida with her mother and her mother’s new husband, and says her life has improved drastically since her mother and Tarrats divorced.