Ten days after the birth of his first son, a man from Zambia was sentenced to 12 years in prison today for the 2011 rape of a learning disabled woman in Highland Park.
Nsoni Mpulamasaka, a 27-year-old who lived in Waukegan while earning a master’s degree and had plans to earn a doctorate and become a pharmacist, called his act a “moral failing.” He and his defense attorney have consistently said it was consensual sex between two married people.
Mpulamasaka said he came to the U.S. when he was 20, and was “fortunate to accomplish a lot academically." But that means nothing now, he added.
“This is the lowest of the lowest I have reached here,” he told Lake County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Shanes. “I’m humbling myself, recognizing that I made a moral mistake.”
Jurors deliberated four hours in February before finding Mpulmasaka guilty of the June 2011 rape of the Evanston woman in a Highland Park parking lot.
According to Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Reginald Mathews, Mpulamasaka got into the driver's seat of the woman's car and then forced her into the back seat, where the assault occurred. Afterward, "he told her don't tell anyone," and he got in his car and drove away, Mathews said.
The defense had argued that Mpulamasaka had consensual sex with the 41-year-old woman after they spent the night singing karaoke at the Lantern in Lake Forest and then had breakfast at Denny's in Highland Park.
The woman testified under cross-examination by defense attorney Jed Stone that she and Mpulamasaka held hands under the table at Denny's. She also testified that she “straddled him” in the back seat of her car and hugged him good-bye before they parted, Stone said.
Mathews said he believes that due to her learning disability, the victim was confused by the questioning under cross-examination by Stone. She was clear about what she didn't want during questioning by the prosecution, he said.
"She said she didn't want this guy to do this to her," Mathews said.
After they parted, the woman drove to the Highland Park home of her parents, where she stayed for several hours without mentioning the attack to avoid worrying them, and then drove herself to Evanston Hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery to repair a bleeding vaginal tear, Mathews said.According to Stone and an expert for the defense at the trial, the tear could have happened during consensual sex.Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Lauren Kalcheim Rothenberg asked Shanes to impose a 20 year sentence. Kalcheim Rothenberg said that Mpulamasaka was remorseful for his infidelity but not for the rape.
“He’s a danger to society,” she said.
But Stone said that 20 years was excessive, especially for a man who would be deported upon the completion of whatever sentence he is given. He asked Shanes to impose the minimum, six years.
“Boy, I’m not justifying his conduct,” Stone said. “What he did that evening was wrong. He’s accepted responsibility.”
In deciding the sentence, Shanes said that he considered all of the factors of Mpulamasaka’s background and his conduct.
“You came to the U.S. to live the American dream, but instead you inflicted a nightmare,” Shanes said.
Both sides are due back in court on July 2, when Stone is expected to file a motion to reconsider the sentence. Stone also said he will appeal the verdict.