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MAN GETS 50-YEAR TERM IN SEX ASSAULT

A former Buffalo restaurant worker was ordered Thursday to spend 50 years in prison after being found guilty of sexually brutalizing and nearly killing a teenage female acquaintance who gave him a bicycle ride from a Hertel Avenue bar.

Michael Robinson, 40, protested that he was innocent and would be cleared by DNA evidence.

"They have the wrong person because I was not there," he insisted.

With the now-20-year-old victim in the courtroom, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph S. Forma rebuked the ex-convict for "the brutality and savagery" of the early morning incident May 25, 2002.

The judge told the defendant that the victim now speaks with a raspy voice because of windpipe damage she suffered in the attack and was lucky that a passer-by came upon her.

Prosecutors Scott F. Riordan and Michael J. Hillery said the victim clearly identified Robinson as the man who assaulted her about 4 a.m. in a field behind School 81 off Tacoma Avenue in North Buffalo.

Robinson did not testify in the jury trial that ended with his Feb. 4 conviction on charges of attempted murder, sodomy, sexual abuse and assault.

During his remarks at the sentencing, Robinson told the judge that he openly admits prior prison terms for assault convictions in 1983 and 1992. But he insisted in a calm, strong voice that "I did not rape this girl." He contended that she probably was attacked by another man after he had left her that morning.

After the sentencing, Riordan and Hillery said the victim, who declined to comment as she left the courtroom, testified during the trial that she had let Robinson pedal her bike as she sat on the handlebars. He then stopped near the school, she said, and dragged her into the field.

The prosecutors said the victim, who suffered severe head and internal injuries in addition to the permanent windpipe injuries, was found in the field about three hours after the attack by a neighborhood woman who was walking her dog and called police for help.

Riordan and Hillery said no state action was ever taken against the Hertel Avenue bar where the then-underage victim had been served alcohol on the morning of the attack.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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