A military jury ignored an Air Force captain's plea for leniency Wednesday, sentencing him to 50 years in prison for raping four men and attempting to rape two others.
The sentence was delivered a day after nine Air Force officers serving on Capt. Devery L. Taylor's court-martial jury found him guilty of all charges against him for drugging and kidnapping servicemen and others he met in bars. Taylor was dismissed from the Air Force and will not be eligible for parole for 20 years.
Earlier Wednesday, the 38-year-old former hospital administrator asked jurors for leniency. His civilian defense attorney said Taylor had no criminal history and an outstanding military record in his four years of service.
Taylor was convicted of two counts of attempted sodomy, four counts of forcible sodomy, two counts of kidnapping and one count of unlawful entry.
He had testified that he had consensual sex with five of the men and that the sixth, who is openly gay, raped him. Taylor's attorney said the men lied to protect their military careers.
"I want you to know how much I have loved being a part of the Air Force and serving this country. It has been difficult for me to be a part of the military and be who I am, which is a homosexual. God has made me who I am and it has taken me a lot of time to come to terms with this," Taylor said in a written statement read Wednesday by a military defense attorney assisting in the case.
‘They will suffer the rest of their lives’
Prosecutors described Taylor as a serial rapist who met his victims in bars, drugged them by spiking their drinks with the "date-rape" drug gamma-hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, and kidnapped them. They asked jurors to sentence him to life and to dismiss him from the Air Force.
"Each of these victims met the accused only briefly but they will suffer the rest of their lives," said Capt. Eveylon Westbrook, a military prosecutor.
Martin Regan, his civilian defense attorney, had asked jurors to consider a sentence of 10 years with the possibility of parole.
"He was awarded the Outstanding Service Medal for two years at Eglin. All of his service records were excellent," Regan said. "The best way to protect society is through rehabilitation. A life sentence isn't necessary because he is not a repeat offender. He can be rehabilitated in prison."
Taylor said he feared he was the victim of a "gay round up" when investigators from the military's Office of Special Investigators interviewed him in 2006 and that that is why he did not fully answer investigators' questions in a five-hour video taped interview shown to jurors.
Four of the men he was convicted of assaulting were in the military when they met Taylor, and a fifth wanted to join the Navy and feared being identified as gay, Regan said. Regan said Taylor's only crime was being gay in the military and violating the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which bans people who are openly gay from serving in the armed forces.
All victims testify
Each of the six men testified during the nine-day court-martial and said they drank with Taylor at bars, later felt drugged and were assaulted by Taylor. Two of the men, both Air Force officers, testified in uniform.
The victims submitted letters for the jury to consider at sentencing.
Westbrook said the letters describe how being raped has caused depression, problems in some of their marriages and in their jobs.
And she said Taylor became less cautious with his victims over time, first targeting acquaintances and later targeting strangers.
"He started as an opportunist and he ended as a pure predator," she said.
Military police handcuffed Taylor and chained his feet before escorting him from the Eglin Law Center on Wednesday afternoon. Taylor gazed forward and held his head up.
Capt. Amy Jordan, Taylor's military defense attorney, said she was "devastated" by the verdict.
"In court he has kept up his bearing as a military officer, but privately with us he has shown a lot of emotion," she said.
Sheriff's deputies in August charged another man with helping Taylor commit an alleged rape of one of the six victims on March 23. Radoslaw Czaban, 38, of Okaloosa Island, is awaiting trial on charges of being a principal to sexual battery and false imprisonment.