A case that began with a hallway rape and with at least five onlookers never calling police ended in Ramsey County District Court on Friday with a defendant seeking probation and treatment -- not a prison sentence -- to battle his demons.
Turns out, he'll battle them in prison.
Rage Ibrahim, 26, was sentenced to 12 years in prison -- the term recommended by state sentencing guidelines -- for an attack that occurred early Aug. 21 in an apartment building in the 300 block of S. Winthrop Street in St. Paul.
Ibrahim, a Somali immigrant who reportedly witnessed the murders of his father and two brothers in Mogadishu when he was 7 years old, was in an "immoral wilderness" of alcohol abuse for the two years before the attack, his attorney said.
But Ramsey County District Judge Michael Fetsch, while acknowledging a past "full of tragedy," told Ibrahim the "present facts are another tragedy."
Ibrahim's mother, Fadumo Warsame, 66, who sat with four relatives in the third row of the courtroom, said later: "The sentence was very harsh. ... It was not fair."
The victim did not attend, nor did she provide a written statement to the court. She is being shunned by the Somali community, prosecutor Jill Gerber said.
In earlier testimony, the woman said she had been drinking with Ibrahim and another man the night of the attack. Ibrahim began to touch her sexually, and when she told him to stop he slapped her and threw her to the floor. She then fled into the hallway, where he sexually assaulted her. A surveillance tape showed people peering out their doors.
A man arriving at the building about 2:35 a.m. finally called police.
After a trial complicated by language difficulties, cultural barriers and religious taboos, Ibrahim was convicted in January of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, in large part because of the violent images captured on the hallway videotape.
In arguing for probation Friday, attorney Jerod Peterson said Ibrahim was an "upstanding citizen" who had been derailed by post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use. The decision to begin drinking, he said, began when one of Ibrahim's friends -- whose father also had been killed -- told Ibrahim that alcohol helped him to forget the loss.
If sent to prison, Peterson said, Ibrahim would not get the treatment he needed and eventually would leave custody "in much worse condition."
Ibrahim, sobbing, told the judge: "One wrong choice to consume alcohol has cost me." He hoped one day to ask the victim in person to forgive him, he added.
In arguing for the prison sentence, Gerber noted that in presentence interviews Ibrahim indicated how the woman was there to entertain him and a friend and how she "danced for us," that she seemed to be asking for sex.
"Frankly," Gerber said, "he's a danger to the public."
Peterson countered: "He is a danger to the public -- when he drinks."
Anthony Lonetree • 651-298-1545