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Convicted rapist will be detained under Jimmy Ryce Act

Jesse James Orshal, left, talks with attorney Jeanie Cohen. Orshal was convicted for brutally raping a 64-year-old woman in 2004.


Jesse James Orshal, left, talks with attorney Jeanie Cohen. Orshal was convicted for brutally raping a 64-year-old woman in 2004.

NEW PORT RICHEY – From ages 13 to 21, Jesse James Orshal sexually assaulted three women and tried to force himself on a fourth. His last attack, a brutal rape in Hudson Beach, has kept him behind bars since 2004.

He served his time for those crimes.

On Thursday, a jury decided Orshal posed a continued threat and should be detained indefinitely.

"The best predictor of future events is past behavior," Assistant State Attorney Eric Rosario told the courtroom. "Four rapes in eight years."

Orshal served eight years for the 2004 attack and was slated to be released in August. Instead of being freed, he has been held at the Florida Civil Commitment Center in Arcadia as he awaited a new trial under the Jimmy Ryce Act. This act allows sexually violent predators to be committed for treatment indefinitely against their will. Once committed, offenders are evaluated annually. How they do in treatment determines when they can get out. Some are in for years. Some are in for life.

The finding of the six-person jury — four women, two men — infuriated Orshal's parents, who said he already served his time for the assaults.

"How can they take his life away from him?" asked his mother, Kelly Orshal.

"I don't believe this happens in the United States," added his father, Jim Orshal. "This is crazy."

Doctors for the state testified this week that Jesse Orshal, now 28, suffers from paraphilia, a psychiatric disorder that manifests in deviant sexual behavior, and antisocial personality disorder. Doctors testifying for the defense differed. Dr. Karen Parker, forensic psychologist and former clinical director of Florida's sexually violent predator program, said the Ryce Act is for those who pose a "true exceptional risk to the community."

Orshal "did not meet that criteria," she said.

Defense attorney Jeanine Cohen said Orshal is not a menace, but "a man who committed sex crimes."

"He is not proven to be a sexually violent predator," Cohen said Thursday in her closing statement. "He is a 28-year-old man who has paid his debt to society."

Orshal's parents and three sisters were in court to support him.

"Unconditional loves means no matter what that person did," said his sister, Kaylene Orshal, 27. "He has changed for the better."

Rosario told the jury Orshal's behavior began when he was a child.

"At 11, he is initiating sex with his 15-year-old babysitter," he said. Orshal spoke of the liaisons during his testimony Tuesday and told the courtroom he thought it was cool, at 11, to be with an older woman. Orshal testified that he was sexually abused by a man when he was 4 or 5, which is what he thinks caused his behavior.

In 1996, at age 13, Orshal raped a 10-year-old girl and attempted to rape a 15-year-old girl. He was given probation, but he cut off his ankle monitor. That landed him in a juvenile detention facility.

After his release, he moved to New York. He was arrested there in 2001, at age 18, for having nonconsensual sex with a 15-year-old girl. He pleaded to sexual misconduct and received probation.

Those three previous crimes were misdemeanors.

In 2004, it was a felony.

"His urge is so great he is going to do this regardless of a woman fighting and struggling against him," Rosario said.

Orshal, then 21, left a Pasco bar with a woman in her 60s. The victim told authorities Orshal asked for a ride. They drove to Hudson Beach. There, Orshal attacked her.

"For almost three hours that man terrorized, brutalized and raped me over and over again," the 64-year-old victim told the court in 2006. "I begged. I cried. I pleaded with him not to do it, not to do that to me."

Orshal told the woman he had a gun. He wrapped his hands around her neck and said he would kill her. She fought and ripped out his earring and stuffed it in the car seat cushion.

"Because if I died," she said during Orshal's court proceedings in 2006, "I wanted DNA evidence to prove he was my killer."

The case never went to trial. The victim agreed to a plea deal that gave Orshal eight years in prison followed by five years of sexual offender probation. Orshal pleaded no contest to second-degree sexual battery and was adjudicated guilty.

The victim said at the 2006 plea hearing that she agreed to the deal because she felt a Christian duty to do so.

"I pray for his soul," she said. "I love him because God loves him. I pray for him if he is not stopped."

The state attorney's office said the woman is now dead. Otherwise, she might have been called to testify in this week's case.

Orshal "poses a menace to society," Rosario said.

Sami-Jo Orshal, 23, said her brother is a different person now than he was when he committed the offenses.

"He was a child for two of the crimes," she said.

While the jury deliberated, Orshal swiveled in his seat and spoke with a third sister, April Orshal. He said at the treatment facility in Arcadia, men often have sex with each other. "I want to take a shower without someone peeping on me," he told his sister. Orshal said the men there follow any women working or visiting the facility with their pants unzipped and stroking their genitals. "It makes me sick," he said.

"I'm not like that," Orshal said. "That's what I'm hoping they understand."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at or (727) 869-6229.

Convicted rapist will be detained under Jimmy Ryce Act 03/22/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 22, 2012 8:40pm]
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