Accused rapist Fitzgerald Rice was on the sex offender registry - | WBTV Charlotte

Accused rapist Fitzgerald Rice was on the sex offender registry

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

As Fitzgerald Rice awaits the outcome of his trial at the Mecklenburg County courthouse, his past accusers also wait to find out how their accounts resonated with a jury panel of 12.

Rice is accused of raping and beating a woman at his Central Avenue apartment in 2012. His defense attorney, Bob Trobich, has tried to question the credibility of Rice's current accuser and other women who describe similar encounters with him.

Rice had barely been out of prison a year before his arrest in 2012. He served nearly 10 years for trying to kill a woman with a hammer and trying to force her to have sex. The crimes landed Rice on the state's sex offender registry.

In all, prosecutors called three past accusers to the stand, though not all their cases ended with a conviction. The state argued they showed a pattern of violent behavior.

In court, the woman who most recently says Rice attacked her testified how she felt guilty putting herself in a questionable situation. Prosecutors say Rice was supposed to pay her for sex acts, but they argue he turned violent and forced her to do much more during their 2012 encounter. 

It's unclear if the woman knew about or would have checked the sex offender registry. Rice was one of nearly 900 people from Mecklenburg County listed on the registry.

His case shows what makes it helpful and imperfect at the same time.

Cori Goldstein, who leads the Sexual Trauma Resource Center through Safe Alliance, says the sex offender registry is a great tool, but it's also just a starting place.

To search the national registry, click here. To contact Safe Alliance for help, click here.

Goldstein says the registry can't be 100-percent perfect for several reasons: not all sex crimes end with a conviction, not all cases are reported to police, and not all perpetrators have been caught.

She says in large part, sex crime prevention falls on the shoulders of the survivors. Checking the registry is just one element.

Goldstein says women should also trust their instincts when a situation doesn't feel right, have a plan to leave, don't meet someone for the first time alone and drive separately when meeting someone new.

In Rice's case, he was on the registry for one attempted rape, but his criminal record shows many more sexually violent crimes that were dismissed by the District Attorney's Office in the past three decades. In general, cases are often dismissed because of a lack of evidence, uncooperative witnesses, and changing stories.

In the past, Rice pled guilty as part of his plea arrangement. Now, his future is in the hands of a jury.

If you are a rape victim and need help, you can also call Safe Alliance to speak with a counselor.

Cabarrus Rape Crisis Line: 704-721-0110

Mecklenburg Rape Crisis Line: 704-375-9900

Union Rape Crisis line: 704-283-7770

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