Daniel Drill-Mellum walked into Hennepin County court on Tuesday a free man, wearing a sharp gray suit and dress shoes, a once-proud former University of Minnesota fraternity brother and onetime intern for Gov. Mark Dayton.
He walked out in handcuffs as the two women he raped nearly two years ago looked on.
Drill-Mellum, 22, of Waconia, was sentenced to more than six years in prison after he pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for the 2014 assaults. In the first incident, he attacked a woman in the laundry room of his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, on Halloween 2014. About a week later, he raped and choked a woman in his apartment so violently that she suffered numerous cuts and abrasions over her body and bled from her mouth.
“I thought I was going to die,” she said. “I kind of hoped I was going to die.”
In a packed courtroom, Drill-Mellum admitted to using force to rape the women, despite both of them telling him to stop.
His attorney, Debbie Lang, said her client entered inpatient sex offender treatment last May.
“From there he flourished,” she said. “My client accepts responsibility.”
In court, Drill-Mellum apologized to his two victims.
“I am deeply sorry,” he said. “No one should have to endure the trauma and harm I have caused you. … I have only begun to understand the impact I have had on you.”
Drill-Mellum’s 74-month sentence falls within state guidelines. He is eligible for release after two-thirds of his sentence.
In their statements, both victims read in detail how their lives have been devastated. The woman attacked on Halloween 2014 said that she began having flashbacks to the rape.
“Sometimes I passed out because I wasn’t breathing steadily enough,” she said. “I would come to terrified and confused.”
She went to the hospital after she was raped, but declined to report the assault to police. About a week later, she learned about Drill-Mellum raping the other woman after he was arrested.
“I silently supported and believed her and hoped she would fight this battle for me,” she said.
The second victim said that the Minneapolis police detective in her case questioned how much she had to drink.
“I remember hearing later from that same detective that Mr. Drill-Mellum had insisted that I wanted what happened to me, because I ‘liked rough sex,’ ” she said in court.
Asked about the detective’s alleged statements, Minneapolis police spokesman Corey Schmidt said questions asked in interviews “are relevant to the crime being investigated and sometimes specifically geared toward things a suspect may have said in an interview.”
“We try to be as delicate as possible when dealing with victims and always offer advocates for them to speak with to help them deal with what has happened,” Schmidt said in an e-mail.
The university expelled Drill-Mellum and banned him from campus, but on Halloween 2015, a year after Drill-Mellum raped the first woman at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, a friend of that victim saw him again at the fraternity house. The first victim said that’s when she decided to go to the university police to report the crime, who began investigating the crimes.
Police arrested Drill-Mellum on Christmas Eve on an airliner at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving from Australia, where he was working. Before that, he attended the U from fall 2012 through fall 2014 and enrolled in the Carlson School of Management. His father, Richard Drill-Mellum, is a lecturer with the university’s School of Public Health. His mother is a doctor. In addition to being an intern for Dayton, Drill-Mellum also interned for U.S. Sen. Al Franken during the summer of 2013.
Drill-Mellum never looked at his victims and hung his head the entire time as each read their statements in court.
“I had to struggle uphill,” the second victim read, “without the many financial resources that he has been blessed with, just to see this moment.”
The first victim called Drill-Mellum’s sentence “a victory for women and daughters everywhere.” “I am proud that I had a part in putting him behind bars,” she said.
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.