‘At least someone else will be protected from him’: Natchez man gets 30 years on Warehouse District rape conviction

Published 5:34 pm Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Natchez man convicted of raping a woman in New Orleans was sentenced to 30 years without parole on Thursday.

William McDonough was convicted March 18 in the 2016 incident and has been named in at least two other rape allegations.

During sentencing on Thursday, the rape survivor testified that the 2016 attack in a Warehouse District apartment left her hollowed out, less confident and more afraid, unable to trust her gut — and grappling with whether she wanted to continue living.

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“I am constantly fighting the feeling that maybe getting through this trial was all I was meant to do in life,” she said as part of her victim’s statement at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.

What kept her going, she said, was that idea that  McDonough, the man convicted of her rape and who also faces two other rape allegations, “can’t keep doing it, and the idea that at least someone else will be protected from him.”

Minutes later, McDonough, 49, of Natchez, was sentenced to 30 years without the benefit of probation or parole.

According to prosecutors, McDonough refused to listen to the victim when she pleaded “no,” over and over again, as he raped her on Sept. 15, 2016 in his apartment.

During the often contentious four-day trial, attorneys battled over the definition of consent. Prosecutors said McDonough raped the woman the moment she said “no,” while McDonough’s defense attorney, Cameron Mary, argued the woman gave McDonough signals that she welcomed his advances — suggestively dancing with him on their date, for example, before going to his place.

Prosecutors said McDonough and the woman met on a dating app, and that a multi-stop date took them from the Ace Hotel to the Saenger Theatre and One-Eyed Jacks, where McDonough invited the woman to his apartment. She initially refused, but worn down from his persistence, she agreed to go back to his place, expecting that they would eat and watch TV.

Instead, prosecutors say, he aggressively touched and kissed her. Eventually, he got her onto his bed. The victim told jurors that she “felt like I had no control over my body” at that time.

Too scared to fight back, she testified at the trial, she repeated, “‘no,’ over and over again.”

District Attorney Jason Williams, who prosecuted the trial alongside Assistant District Attorneys Mary Glass and Naomi Jones, delivered a closing argument directly to McDonough, raising his voice as he said: “It doesn’t matter if she kissed you with an open mouth or if she danced with you. No means no.”

Mary asked multiple times for a retrial on Thursday, saying that his client was denied a fair trial for several reasons, including that hearsay, or second-hand testimony, had been given and that Williams’ remarks were “improper” and prejudiced the jury against McDonough. Orleans Parish District Court Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier ultimately denied Mary’s requests.

The victim’s mother and her fiancé also gave statements.

Her mother said that following her daughter’s attack, “I saw the joy of life disappear from her eyes. She became very withdrawn. She had never been withdrawn from me before.”

She paused, looking at the defense table, where McDonough sat shackled and clad in an orange jail-issued jumpsuit, his now-gray hair slicked back. “Don’t roll your eyes at me, sir,” she said.

McDonough, too, had a chance to speak. He told Flemings-Davillier details had been omitted or twisted at trial, and that he had wanted to take the stand, but Mary advised him against it.

He said the victim lured him back to the apartment after their date, “wagging her finger at me. She never said ‘no.’ She never told me to stop. What she did was go berserk after the fact.”

McDonough implored the judge to think of his two daughters before she issued her sentence.

After she delivered his sentence, Flemings-Davillier spoke directly to the victim. “Words that come to mind when I look at you and when I listen to your story and what your life is and has been: Courage. Strength. Resiliency. Champion. Compassion. Protective. Loved,” she said.

She added, “You’re not a victim. You’re not just even a survivor. You’re a champion.”

McDonough is charged separately with additional counts of second-degree rape stemming from encounters with two other women, who served as witnesses in the March trial.

Trial dates have yet to be set for those charges.

Editor’s note: This article was written by Jillian Kramer and originally published at nola.com.