EL CAJON — A Del Mar man who raped two women he met on a Christian dating website was sentenced Friday to 37 years to life in prison after he challenged one victim to take a lie-detector test.
Sean Patrick Banks spoke briefly at his sentencing hearing, saying he would consider giving up appealing his conviction if one victim, identified in court as KK, “can pass a polygraph on the salient parts of this case.”
El Cajon Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein said he found KK and a second victim, identified only as RO, believable and consistent in their statements.
But Goldstein said Banks’ statements to investigators showed him as an angry man whose “hatred for women is appalling.”
Prosecutor David Williams III called Banks a sexual predator who has shown no remorse for his attacks.
Banks’ parents and several other supporters were in court, but did not speak on his behalf.
Goldstein imposed a middle-term sentence on Banks, who was convicted by a jury in June of meeting KK through Christianmingle.com and RO through Match.com and forcing himself on them in separate encounters.
Prominent women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, from Los Angeles, was in court with KK, who after the hearing identified herself as Katie Kuhlman, 24. (U-T San Diego does not publish the names of victims of sex crimes unless they choose to be identified, as Kuhlman did.)
Allred told reporters she and Kuhlman “want other potential victims to be aware of the risk of online dating. We don’t want what happened to Katie happen to anyone else, and if it does, we urge other victims of predators to immediately report what happened to police.”
Allred declined to comment on whether she would be filing suit against Christianmingle.com
Kuhlman spoke in court, saying she was raised a Christian and wanted to find someone who shared her values and beliefs, so she turned to an online dating service that advertises as a place for Christians to meet. She said Banks contacted her, said he was a Christian, and they talked mostly about their faith.
They agreed to meet on Nov. 21, 2012, and she ended up inviting him to her La Mesa apartment to watch a movie. He brought rum and Coke and pressured her to drink until she finally took a sip, Kuhlman said.
They kissed until she told him to slow down, she said. She said he suddenly forced his hand into her pants, made sexual remarks and dragged her to the bedroom.
He pinned her down and started having sex with her while she cried and then screamed, “Please!,” Kuhlman said. She said he got angry, said, “Fine,” and left. Ten minutes later he texted her saying he had gotten lost and never visited her.
“Immediately I saw how calculated his crime was and I called the police,” Kuhlman said.
“Crime became a reality for me that night,” Kuhlman said. “I have spent the last two years picking up broken pieces of my life. I became very depressed … I learned that surviving rape can make you feel dead inside.”
The second victim did not speak at the sentencing, but in Banks’ trial said she believed he drugged her before assaulting her in 2009.
The judge said Banks displayed a high degree of cruelty and callousness in his assaults, preyed on vulnerable victims, and posed a serious danger to society.
Goldstein said Banks made a prior statement that Kuhlman was attracted to him because she saw attributes of Jesus in him, so she was effectively kissing Jesus when she kissed Banks.
The judge chastised him for thinking he is better than anyone else, at which Banks muttered, “That’s not true.”
Banks told the judge that two years ago he was a doctoral candidate ready to launch a career as a social entrepreneur, and that he still had the support of his family and his faith in God.
Appellate lawyer George Schraer, working with defense attorney Brian White, argued in court for a lower sentence, saying Banks had only a minor misdemeanor in his record and that was later expunged. He also said that the assaults were not violent, and that when Banks was told to stop, he stopped.
White declined to comment on his client’s offer to consider not appealing if Kuhlam took a polygraph, but said out of court, “The offer still stands.”
Kuhlman, also after court, said she was satisfied with the prison sentence.