Man sentenced to 75-150 years for rape

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In the 12 years since the young woman was attacked, she has gone on to volunteer with the Peace Corps, earn a master's degree from Yale, get married and have a baby.

Still, all of those successes, she said, are not enough to cover up the damage Ralph Skundrich did to her.

For years after the brutal July 25, 2002, sexual assault in her Shadyside apartment, the woman told Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman in a letter Thursday, she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, frequent panic attacks, thoughts of suicide and self-harm.

Even now, she continues to go to counseling and take anti-depressants.

"Let me tell you how it is to live through an experience like this," she wrote. "It is ... to live in fear ... to live with terror by memories and nightmares for years after the event ... to be paranoid, jumpy and scared at every unexpected sound or movement ... to be a prisoner of your own mind ... to have something bring you to your knees in questioning your own strength and your own faith in whether there is a God ... to wonder whether you actually deserved the punishment of having been disempowered, humiliated and victimized ... and to wonder about others that he may have victimized as well, about whether they have the same feelings as you, and that maybe you aren't as alone as you feel in this experience at certain moments of the day."

Skundrich, 47, was sentenced Thursday by Judge Cashman to 75 to 150 years in prison. He also faces trial on similar charges in Butler County on June 11.

According to Deputy District Attorney Janet Necessary, Skundrich broke into the woman's third-floor apartment on Fifth Avenue in Shadyside about 2:30 a.m. that day.

He threatened the 18-year-old with a gun, demanded money and subjected her to forcible oral and anal sex.

Skundrich was developed as a suspect after a DNA match was made in the national database in 2010. He went to trial in January and was found guilty of five counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, as well as multiple counts of sexual assault, indecent assault, terroristic threats, simple assault and false imprisonment.

At trial, a DNA expert said the probability of the sample collected from the victim coming from Skundrich was 4.04 quadrillion times more likely than coincidence, Ms. Necessary said.

Investigators said DNA also linked Skundrich to the attack in Butler County seven weeks prior to the one in Shadyside.


Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.


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