An Independence man has been found guilty of raping a woman he met on a dating website. Bradley D. Everhart, 31, was found guilty by a Platte County jury on August 7 after less than two hours of deliberation following a two-day jury trial.
“The jury in this case sent the message that ‘No’ really does mean ‘No.’” Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said. “Meeting someone on a dating website, going to their home, and watching a movie clearly does not give anyone the right to force sex upon that person.”
At trial, prosecutors proved that on Aug. 28, 2016, a 31-year-old woman met Everhart at a Platte County home. The woman had earlier met Everhart on the dating website Plenty of Fish, and they had exchanged text messages earlier that day.
Everhart and the woman went to a bedroom to watch a movie, where the woman sat on the bed.
After a few minutes, Everhart kissed the woman’s shoulder, and she said “No.” Everhart responded, “You didn’t want me to do that? Fine.”
Later, however, he touched her again and got on top of her. The woman repeatedly told Everhart “No,” and tried to push him off of her.
Everhart told her, “It’s too late; it’s already in there,” and continued to rape her.
The woman immediately fled the house, reported the encounter to her mother and a friend, and went to a hospital, where she also spoke to police. DNA recovered during a sexual assault exam later confirmed the presence of Everhart’s DNA. The sexual assault examination also found evidence of injuries from the rape.
After the woman fled, Everhart sent over 60 text messages to the woman in under an hour. He repeatedly apologized and asked her not to say anything because he would lose his girls, promising it would not happen again.
When interviewed by police, Everhart initially denied knowing the woman or ever meeting anyone in person using the Plenty of Fish website. He later admitted he had sex with the woman for up to a minute after she told him “No.” He said he did so because it hurts to stop.
The woman testified that Everhart used his body to physically restrain her. As Everhart pinned her to the bed, she continually told him “No” and “Stop” while shoving him with her hands and pushing him with her legs. Everhart admitted that she fought back. He said she hurt him, and he threw up soon after she left.
In his closing argument, the criminal defense lawyer attempted to shift blame to the victim. He asked the jury to consider the clothes she was wearing and her intentions for driving to the house. He suggested the woman did not fight back hard enough, because she did not try to “scratch the defendant’s eyes out” and had no apparent signs of bruising.
Julie Donelon, the president and CEO of MOCSA, the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, said, “It is never appropriate to blame the victim. It silences victims of sexual violence and keeps perpetrators from being held accountable. This verdict sends a clear message to survivors that when they report they will be believed and supported, and perpetrators will be held accountable.”
“The jury immediately saw this case for what it is: forcible rape,” Zahnd said. “Even if we assume the story the defendant told police is true, he continued to force himself onto a woman for nearly a minute while she was repeatedly saying “No” and trying to push him off. That’s rape, and no prior conduct of either the defendant or the victim can change that fact.”
The jury found Everhart guilty of first degree rape. He faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison. There is no maximum sentence for the crime, and probation is not permitted.
The case was investigated by the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. It was tried by Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Blake Sherer and Miranda Loesch.