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Port Tampa rapist gets forgiveness, and life in prison

TAMPA

Tommy Lee Sailor's victim told him she forgave him for choking and sexually assaulting her on New Year's Day 2010.

But the victim did her part during his trial to make sure Sailor could never attack another woman. On Thursday morning, she asked Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe to do his part.

Tharpe then told Sailor, 38, he was the kind of person Florida prisons were made to keep. He sentenced Sailor to life without parole for armed sexual battery and 15 years in prison for false imprisonment.

Last April, it took a jury just 16 minutes to convict Sailor of attacking the 30-year-old single mother of two after she and Sailor left a New Year's Eve celebration at a Port Tampa bar called Tillie's Place.

It was 3 a.m. She'd had seven beers. He told her he lived nearby and could give her a ride home. She didn't know he was a twice-convicted rapist, only six months out of prison. She didn't know he had slipped off an ankle monitor to go out that night.

At his house, Sailor demanded sex. He told her he was a "serial killer and a serial rapist." When she resisted, he held a screwdriver to her eye and choked her. He told her he would spare her life in exchange for sex.

As he attacked her, she managed to dial 911 on her cell phone. She didn't know if the call went through. But a 911 dispatcher heard her screams, traced the call and sent Tampa police to her rescue.

Jurors heard a recording of the 911 call.

At the Thursday sentencing, the victim and her mother said they are still haunted by the attack, and the idea that the victim's two children, ages 12 and 3, could have been left motherless.

The victim said she took action last year to make sure she never put her children's security at risk again.

"I walked into Alcoholics Anonymous," she said. "I haven't had a drink in over a year."

Sailor declined to speak before he was sentenced. Since he was 16, he has spent only three years outside prison.

"I forgive you, Mr. Sailor," the victim's mother said. "You are out of my head and my heart and out of my feelings. I hope you find a connection with a god you understand."

John Barry can be reached at jbarry@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383.

Port Tampa rapist gets forgiveness, and life in prison 05/12/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 13, 2011 12:34am]

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