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Judge sentences 23-year-old rapist to life

Circuit Judge William Webb didn't mince words Friday when he sentenced a convicted rapist to life in prison Friday for the 1998 sexual assault of a New Port Richey single mother.

"You were this poor woman's nightmare," the judge told Robert Masters. "You are every woman's nightmare."

Masters, 23, was convicted by a Pasco jury last month of five counts of sexual battery. He also was found guilty of one count each of armed burglary and kidnapping.

Prosecutors said Masters broke into the victim's house in the early morning hours of Sept. 10, 1998, as the woman and her two young daughters slept. The woman, now 45, testified that she awoke to see a man standing over her bed, holding a foot-long knife and breathing heavily through a towel that was wrapped bandana-style over his lower face.

Her 5-year-old daughter was awakened by the sound of her mother's crying, and Masters allowed the woman to put the little girl back in bed.

Then Masters ordered the woman to put the towel over her head, and he raped her for the next three hours before fleeing the house and boarding a Greyhound bus to Davenport, Iowa, where he was eventually arrested.

DNA from Masters' blood matched semen taken from the victim, who is not being identified by the Times because of the nature of the crime. Masters once cleaned the woman's pool.

"He took away my self-respect and my dignity that night," the woman told the judge at Friday's sentencing hearing. "He broke my spirit and left me a shadow of the person I used to be."

The rape also has traumatized her two daughters, now 8 and 9, the woman said.

"My daughters and I have slept on the floor in the living room for two years because we're afraid to sleep in our rooms," she said. "I have two little girls who are afraid of the night."

Prosecutor Scott Andringa, in asking for the maximum sentence, said society needs to be protected from Masters, who once served time in an Iowa prison for burglary and theft.

"The defendant is beyond rehabilitation," the prosecutor said. "He has forfeited his right to live among law-abiding citizens."

Masters, who faced a minimum sentence of 30 years in prison, declined to make a statement in court Friday.