Since she was sexually assaulted in the bathroom of a Burger King, she no longer uses a public restroom without having someone stand guard outside the door.
She said memories of what happened will forever haunt her.
“You get to be free while I’m in prison for the rest of my life,” the 31-year-old woman said Monday morning as she faced her attacker during his sentencing in Summit County Common Pleas Court.
Keith Brandon, 49, who is homeless, pleaded guilty Sept. 15 to a reduced charge of attempted rape, a second-degree felony. He was originally charged with rape and gross sexual imposition.
Under the terms of an agreement with prosecutors that averted a trial, Judge Alison McCarty sentenced Brandon to two years in prison. He will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.
Police say Brandon assaulted the woman in the restroom of the Burger King restaurant on East Market Street April 22. He was arrested a few miles away at the Transit Center on South Broadway Street.
Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Jennie Shuki said the woman Brandon assaulted has had difficulty working and suffered emotional and mental anguish since the incident. The woman has been going through counseling.
Shuki said the assault may have been worse if someone else hadn’t gone looking for the victim and chased Brandon out of the restaurant.
The victim, who directed her comments at Brandon and looked at him the entire time she spoke, said Brandon assaulted her even after she begged him to stop and told him, “No!”
Despite her pleas, she said, he penetrated her with his hand.
“I wake up scared,” she said. “I wake up wondering what I could have done differently.”
The woman is not being identified, because it is the Beacon Journal’s policy not to name victims of sexual crimes.
Neither Brandon nor his attorney, Kirk Migdal, spoke. Brandon frequently looked down during the sentencing, but showed no other emotion.
McCarty told the victim she was glad the woman had the courage to face Brandon and address the court.
“I have hope that you will work through this and conquer that fear,” she said.
As for Brandon, McCarty said he has two years to “contemplate what you did to this young lady.”
“Hopefully, you won’t do this to anyone else,” she said.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com or on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.