(Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the Westside Current on April 8 and is reprinted with permission.)
It was a moving day in the Airport Courthouse in Westchester Friday when sentencing was handed down to convicted rapist Dylan James Jensen.
In December of 2021, a jury found Jensen guilty on seven counts that included rape, sodomy and sexual battery. In March, the jury determined Jensen was “legally sane” when committing all acts.
Jensen was homeless and high on methamphetamines when he broke into Cathie L’s apartment at the border of Santa Monica and Venice on the early morning of June 4, 2018, and raped her at knifepoint.
On Friday, Jensen was handed four consecutive life sentences inside a California State Prison with parole eligibility in 100 years.
Unlike the guilty and sanity phase of the trial–the victim, several community members and detectives who oversaw the case were in attendance for the sentencing.
“This was a big case,” said retired Santa Monica Police Officer Monique Carrillo–who specialized in crimes against persons. “Detective Nicole Murphy [who was there for the duration of the trial] spent a lot of time working on this case. I was there the morning of the rape and here today to see this though.”
Also present Friday was jury member Cathy Andrade who said that she felt like justice was served. “I’m blown away by the sentencing,” Andrade said. “Today brought back memories of seeing the evidence and going through the process of the trail. I am just so glad justice was served.”
The victim, Cathie L., delivered a tearful and impassioned statement that, at one point, brought prosecuting attorney Jenna Franklin to tears.
Cathie told the judge that because she suffered from various health issues because of the rape, she did what she could to live through COVID so that she could testify in the case and be there for sentencing Friday.
“I became a recluse because I wanted to stay healthy and live long enough to testify and see this trial through,” stated Cathie. “I’m very thankful to be alive today and thank the court for its time.”
Cathie started her victim impact statement by telling the judge about the profound impact the rape has had on her physical and mental health.
“With my utmost respect to Your Honor and to this court, I’m glad to be able to finally let you know how the rapist’s attack turned my life into a nightmare – both emotionally and physically when he [Jensen] chose to break into my security-alarmed apartment on June 4, 2018, and rape me at knifepoint. The rape resulted in me no longer having any sense of security or safety, inside or outside of my apartment.”
Cathie told the court how almost immediately after the rape she experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “I couldn’t get the image of the rapist out of my mind as he woke me up with a knife pointed at my face as I lay in my bed at 5 a.m..” Cathie said.
She said that for eight months after the attack she could only sleep a maximum of three to four hours a night. “I was working my full-time incredibly high-stress law office job,” Cathie said. “It took everything I had to get through each day without making mistakes or falling apart.”
“Even now, 46 months and four days since the rapist attacked me, I still wake up multiple times each night– too terrified to go back to sleep.” Cathie went on to say that she lays frozen in fear in her bed straining to hear if anyone is in her home. “I’m getting up to look around to be sure no one broke in. I worry that all the safety precautions and systems in place will fail. I worry that maybe my alarm system won’t work and that someone will break in again and kill me if I’m sleeping soundly.”
Cathie stated that the attack has had a profound physical impact on her physical health as well. “It’s well known that a lack of sleep causes many mental and physical health issues, such as weight gain, depression, and bottom line, it shortens your life. ”
“My mental and physical health today is the opposite of before the rapist decided to attack me,” Cathie said. “I’ve gained 70 pounds. One of my eyes has been twitching since I was last in court four months ago. I developed asthma and eczema for the first time in my life. After the trial started, my primary doctor referred me to a heart specialist. I’m still under her care and I am on my fourth medication to keep my blood pressure under control. ”
Cathie told the judge that she wakes up with her heart beating out of her chest from nightmares “populated by strange men threatening me and the sound of heavy objects being dropped around my bed. These nightmares are so real that it’s hard to go back to sleep afterward.”
Cathie also told the judge that everyday tasks have also changed in her life. “When I brush my teeth, wash my dishes, or shower, I hear all sorts of sounds happening in my apartment, so I have to take care of these tasks very quickly, so my heart doesn’t race for one second longer than necessary.”
“During the day, I have waking nightmares where I sense someone is in my apartment. I imagine seeing dangerous men out of the corner of my eye, and sometimes I can feel them standing near me. I’m crippled with fear, afraid of an even more horrific attack than what the rapist put me through. Being terrified that I would be killed for 50 minutes at the hands of the rapist was horrifying, but due to the criminal’s violent acts, my imagination, both during the day and night, conjures up even more terrible acts of violence, including my own death.”
“No one should have to live this way.”
In addition to four life sentences, Jensen must also register as a sex offender and was ordered to pay restitution.
Jensen has started the appeal process for his conviction.