December 23, 2013 | 12:08 PMELKHORN — A Lake Geneva man who raped a 16-year-old girl at an underage drinking party was sentenced Dec. 19 to 15 years in a state prison.
Christopher L. Ruman, now 22, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a felony charge of second-degree sexual assault, use of force. Judge David Reddy also sentenced Ruman to an additional five years of extended supervision.
Although Ruman pleaded guilty to the charge on Dec. 19, 2012, he denies the rape. In 2013, he attempted to withdraw his plea, but Reddy denied that motion.
"I'm not the monster that they portrayed me to be," Ruman said.
Emotions ran high during the more than three hour sentencing hearing. Members of the victim's family were on one side of the courtroom and Ruman's family, pastor and friends filled the other half. Some of Ruman's friends wore "Free Cheedah" shirts, which is Ruman's nickname.
During a recess, there was a minor verbal disagreement in the hallway, which a sheriff's deputy quickly ended. However, for the rest of the hearing the number of deputies in the courtroom increased from one to three.
During the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube painted Ruman as narcissist and chauvinistic and as someone who has an "utter disrespect for women."
"She was just a piece of meat that night," Grube said. "He knew what he wanted, and he took it."
The victim told Ruman she hopes he "rots in prison."
"I should have come out and said I refuse to be the victim, but you know what I was," the victim said to Ruman.
The victim's father struggled to fight back tears as he read his statement to the court.
"Chris, I hope one day that you have a daughter so you feel what I feel," he said. "You won't feel it, but you might try to understand it. Hate doesn't even come close to describe how I feel about you."
The victim's stepmother said Ruman didn't take the charges seriously. Throughout the proceeding, Ruman took notes, but he didn't outwardly show emotion as the victim or her family members talked about the sexual assault.
"You have sat here in this courtroom smiling, spinning in your chair and acting like this is a joke," the victim's stepmother said.
Ruman's defense attorney said Ruman took the charges seriously, but felt they were undeserved.
"His attitude is being portrayed as cavalier because in his mind he shouldn't be facing these consequences," defense attorney Thomas Kurzynski said.
Kurzynski said Ruman was willing to take responsibility for having sexual contact with a minor.
"He acknowledges responsibility for the level of statutory rape that occurred," Kurzynski said. "He will not acknowledge responsibility for a brutalizing attack that did not occur."
Weeks before the assault, Ruman received a friend request on Facebook from the victim's friend, who had mutual friends with Ruman. On Facebook, the two chatted.
Ruman said he later posted on Facebook that he was attending a pool party, and that anyone who wanted to come should contact him.
The victim's friend contacted Ruman, and brought the victim with her to the pool party. The day after the party, Ruman and the victim became Facebook friends.
The two began chatting on Facebook and through text messages. On Aug. 24, 2011, Ruman and the victim attended an underage drinking party in the city of Elkhorn inside of a pole barn. About 30 people were at the party. Ruman asked the victim to speak with him outside of the party. Outside of the party, Ruman raped the girl. However, he claims that any sexual contact with the girl was consensual.
During the assault, Ruman heard people calling the victim's name and moved her to a different location where he continued the assault. After the assault, Ruman "flipped" his hair and walked away into the woods.
The girl returned to the party covered in scratch and bite marks and with blood dripping from her legs. Others people at the party saw her injuries, and she disclosed that Ruman raped her.
"I want you to sit in prison and think about me dripping in blood and covered with claw marks," the victim said to Ruman during the hearing.
Ruman claims he walked back to the party with the victim.
"This was a consensual hookup that turned into a nightmare in a few minutes," Ruman said.
The victim didn't immediately go to police, but her friends photographed her injuries, and she saved her clothes from the night of the assault. Ruman's DNA was found on her clothes.
Two weeks after the rape, Ruman sent a text message to one of the victim's friends and suggested that they hook up.
In November 2011, the sexual assault was disclosed to a counselor at the girl's school, and the school contacted police. Detectives with the Walworth County sheriff's department investigated the assault, and set up an appointment to interview Ruman. However, Ruman skipped the appointment.
He was later arrested and was held in the Walworth County jail on a $50,000 cash bond, which was later reduced to $30,000.
While in jail, Ruman made a series of phone calls that were recorded by police. In those calls, Ruman stated that "he can't go to prison because he is too cute," Grube said while quoting Ruman.
"He said he would be mad if he had to cut his hair," Grube said.
After about six months in jail, Ruman posted bond and quickly found himself in more legal trouble.
He was arrested for disorderly conduct and felony bail jumping after chatting with a 16-year-old girl on Facebook. He was arrested three more times for drinking, and got in trouble at the Walworth County jail for causing damage to his uniform, which he denies.
When sentencing Ruman, Reddy said Ruman's comments were self-serving and he doesn't find them credible.
"This sense of entitlement and a lack of respect for women is rampant in this case," Reddy said.
During sentencing hearings, defendants are given a chance to address the judge and victims. Ruman spoke for more than 20 minutes and denied the assault and attempted to explain other behavior that the state described as chauvinistic.
"You aren't going to be able to talk your way out of this situation," Reddy later told Ruman.
One morning, at about 3 a.m., Ruman and a friend posted a video on Facebook called "Improving it for the ladies."
In the video, Ruman and a friend talk about Ruman's smile and hair. In the video Ruman also talks about "sticking his opinion in the heads of women."
Grube argued the video broadcasted Ruman's "narcissism and self-entitlement."
"He was just being a dumb fool at 3 o'clock in the morning," Kurzynski said dismissing the video.
Grube said comments that Ruman made on social media are also troubling.
"My girlfriend yelled at me for being 'too controlling,' a Ruman post read. "Funny thing is, I don't remember giving her permission to speak."
When Ruman was given a chance to speak, he said he was posting song lyrics and was retweeting comments he saw on Twitter.
Reddy said that doesn't excuse his comments.
"You are adopting these statements as your own," Reddy said.
Reddy said Ruman's comments show that Ruman disrespects women.
"It shows insight to this court into the thinking of this defendant," Reddy said.