BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A man prosecutors call a serial rapist learns his fate. Nelson Clifford will spend more than 30 years behind bars — convicted of third-degree sex offense and theft. He’s been tried in nearly half a dozen sexual assault cases across the city.
Meghan McCorkell was in the courtroom as the judge handed down the sentence.
Prosecutors were hoping for a life sentence, but a judge handed down 31 and a half years for Nelson Clifford.
Prosecutors call 37-year-old Nelson Clifford a sexual predator who’s preyed on women for years.
“That predator is now going to jail for 31 and a half years. The women of Baltimore City are safer because of it,” said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
Clifford has been tried five times for breaking into women’s homes through a window or fire escape, tying them up and sexually assaulting them.
Each time, he’s taken the stand, calling the sex was consensual and sometimes claiming the victim is a prostitute.
He’s been acquitted every time — until now.
“It was devastating for me. I felt like he raped me again,” said Shatia Lansdowne, alleged victim.
Clifford was found not guilty of attacking Lansdowne in 2011 as her young children slept in the next room.
Prosecutors were not allowed to tell the jury about prior cases against him.
“I think he’s a monster. I think he needs help. And I think that he definitely needs to be in jail for the rest of his life,” said Lansdowne.
Earlier this month, Clifford was convicted in a 2007 case.
In court Thursday, he apologized to his victims, saying: “I’m sorry. I truly am.” Then he asked the judge: “Please don’t throw my life away.”
Before sentencing, judge Alfred Nance told the court: “Mr. Clifford is persuasive. Mr. Clifford is also manipulative.”
“I’m glad that he’s in jail and behind bars, so that he will no longer prey on others,” said Angela D. Wharton, Phynyx Ministries.
Even though it’s not her case, Shatia Lansdowne is relieved with the sentence.
“I feel vindicated. I feel like he got the time that he deserved,” she said.
Now she wants to move past this horrible ordeal.
Clifford served nearly ten years after he admitted to sexually assaulting a woman back in 1997 when he was just a teenager.
The state’s attorney is pushing to change Maryland law to allow evidence of other sexual assaults admissible in a criminal trial.