Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Man convicted in Fivay High School rape

NEW PORT RICHEY — Justin Kulik was convicted Friday of sexual battery for a Nov. 16, 2010, incident in a Fivay High School restroom.

A jury of four women and two men deliberated for about two hours before returning the verdict. Kulik, 20, roamed the halls of the courthouse, wearing large headphones and smoking an electronic cigarette, while he waited for the jury. When the verdict came, he broke down and mouthed the words "I didn't do this."

He will be sentenced on Oct. 25 and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Prosecutors say Kulik — then 17 — pushed a 16-year-old girl into a stall and forced her to have sex. Kulik's lawyers said the encounter was consensual and that his accuser claimed it was rape only after she was bullied and called names by classmates.

The day of the incident, Kulik sent the girl, who was his ex-girlfriend, a text asking her to meet him. He pulled her into the restroom at the Hudson school and they had sex for eight to 10 minutes, the girl said on the stand. She did not scream or tell him no.

"I was frozen with fear," she said.

The next day, she reported a rape.

According to testimony, the girl and Kulik had dated previously, but they broke up because the girl had fought with another of Kulik's ex-girlfriends.

At the time, Kulik denied to police that he'd had sex with the girl on the day of the incident.

"He knows what he did," Assistant State Attorney Bryan Sarabia said in his closing arguments. "He knows that he raped her. He knows what happened."

Sarabia said Kulik's lies at the time spoke to his character.

Public defender Shahtia Gay-Hairston asked the jury to look at the circumstances of the case. If it was a rape, she argued, it would have been difficult for Kulik to carefully place the girl's shoes on a toilet paper dispenser and her pants on a hook. She questioned the girl's motives. She said the girl was upset because Kulik left her in the restroom immediately after the encounter.

"You cannot cry rape because you regret having sex," she said.

Contact Jon Silman at (727) 869-6229, [email protected] or @Jonsilman1 on Twitter.

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