Christian M. Ott, the former state corrections officer who broke into a North Tonawanda woman's home and raped and tortured her at knifepoint last winter, almost got away with the crime.
During Ott's sentencing Thursday to 20 years in state prison, Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello said he wore a mask and disguised his voice and face during the attack.
The victim had had a past relationship with Ott, but she couldn't identify her attacker, Donatello said.
"She had no idea who he was," she said. "I don't think the defendant knows how close this was to being an unsolved crime."
A police officer checking footprints in the snow outside the victim's home after the Dec. 9 attack figured that the attacker had to be someone who knew the victim, because there were no footprints leading to the front door.
The footprints led directly to a window, which Ott apparently checked to make sure the woman was alone, before he headed to the back door, where he broke in.
Police asked the victim who she knew who matched the rapist's general physical description. She mentioned two men, one of whom was Ott.
As the victim was sitting in the hospital with a police officer, she heard Ott's name broadcast over the police radio, Donatello said.
"He's not going to get in trouble, is he?" the woman asked the officer.
Ott had had no contact with her for several months and had a new girlfriend, Donatello said.
"He knew she had struggled with depression. He knew, or thought he knew, that she wouldn't call the police," she said.
During the assault, the victim asked Ott if he was going to kill her.
"No, but you'll want to kill yourself after this," he replied.
Donatello said the woman told investigators at one point that she wished she had been killed.
"My entire well-being has been handicapped. It's not fair that my life has been compromised by someone else's despicable actions," the victim told Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.
Ott, 28, of First Avenue, North Tonawanda, pleaded guilty in June to first-degree rape in an agreement that limited his prison sentence to 20 years. The legal maximum was 25 years.
"What stands out, even today," Donatello said, "is the amount of planning and premeditation. This defendant drove the approximately four hours from Greene Correctional Facility [near Albany where he worked at the time] that night."
Before Ott went to the victim's home, he stopped at his North Tonawanda apartment and picked up a camouflage bandanna, then cut eyeholes so he could use it as a mask, Donatello said. He also got a knife, duct tape and latex gloves before walking several blocks to the victim's home.
"He had all that time to change his mind," Donatello said, calling Ott "a cold-blooded, diabolical criminal."
As her attacker left, he told her, "Thank you for the hospitality," according to authorities.
Donatello said Ott bragged to police about the success of his plan as he showed investigators where he disposed of clothing and other evidence.
"I guess the question everyone will always have is, why?" Sperrazza said.
The question went unanswered Thursday. When offered a chance to speak, Ott told the judge, "No, ma'am."
Defense attorney Joel L. Daniels said Ott had been an Eagle Scout and was one of five children raised in a stable, two-parent home.
"He has a terrific family, a patriotic family," Daniels said. "This shows another side, a different person."
"There's something about you that's slightly off," the judge told Ott.
"We fear monsters, not ordinary people," Donatello said. "That's the mask he wore. That's the mask he still wears."