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Man receives two life sentences in “nightmare” rape of local woman

A Portsmouth man will serve two life sentences for the violent rape of a Charlottesville woman while he was on the lam and one of the Virginia Department of Corrections’ “Most Wanted.”

Lenny Riccardo Dortch, 43, was arrested December 2020 and charged with one felony count of abduction with intent to defile, one count of rape and two counts of felony use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Dortch pleaded guilty to the charges in a December 2021 hearing, just before his case was to go to a jury.

The charges stem from a Dec. 17, 2020 incident in which Dortch raped a woman near a Madison Avenue apartment building. At the time of the incident, Dortch, a registered sex offender, was considered one of the most wanted people in the state by the corrections officials who issued an alert about him a month before the assault.

Before Judge Richard E. Moore issued the two life sentences at a Monday hearing, Dortch was allowed to speak. Though occasionally difficult to understand, Dortch urged Moore not to weigh his past too heavily when sentencing him, claiming that he had suffered a traumatic childhood.

During a lengthy explanation of his sentencing decision, Moore told Dortch that he was not exclusively considering the defendant’s past. However, the crimes in Charlottesville were among the worst Moore said he had ever seen and even amongst rapes were a “nightmare offense.”

Moore said Dortch’s past crimes came into play when considering whether he would re-offend or not and the judge said he saw no reason to believe Dortch is not an active threat to the community.

“Many people have experienced terrible things and turned around and said ‘I will never allow that to happen to someone else,’” Moore said. “There comes a point where you have to decide to be accountable for your own actions despite your past.”

People who deliberately cause fear, shame and pain in others are among the worst in society, Moore said, and sometimes need to be removed from the community. With this in mind, Moore sentenced Dortch to a life sentence for both the rape and abduction charge and three years and five years in prison for each firearm charge.

Moore also issued a no contact order forbidding Dortch from ever reaching out to the survivor or her family. After explaining that the order includes messages from third parties, a visibly angry Dortch cursed out Moore and the court before he was escorted away.

Prior to his outburst, Dortch had sat in Charlottesville Circuit Court with his hands shackled together as prosecutors outlined the evidence against him, providing medical records, video footage and Dortch’s lengthy criminal history.

According to Areshini Pather, deputy commonwealth’s attorney for the city, the 26-year-old victim was attacked by a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants soon after leaving a Madison Avenue gym near her home around 9 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2020.

The man, later identified as Dortch, approached her, pointed a gun at her and threatened to kill her. He then took her to a concealed area more than 100 yards away and raped her, alternating between pointing the gun at her head and putting it in her mouth.

“He told the victim ‘If anyone catches us, I will kill you. If anyone catches us, I will kill you both,’” Pather said, referencing interviews given by the victim in the wake of the attack.

Among the evidence presented was a video of the survivor just a few minutes after the attack. The video, shot via the survivor’s Ring porch camera, shows her returning home after the attack, covered in mud and in a state of undress, clutching her torn and dirty clothing to her chest.

Evidence presented in the December 2021 hearing indicated that the victim managed to block Dortch’s ejaculate with her hands, which were later swabbed and found to contain DNA material that matched Dortch.

After Dortch left the scene, the victim returned home and called police. She was transported to the University of Virginia Medical Center where, according to a physician’s report, it was noted she had a litany of injuries consistent with the rape and physical assault she described.

To add to horror of the situation, Pather said the survivor of the attack was a mother of a nine-month-old and had gone to the gym instead of for a run at the urging of her husband who believed it would be safer.

“Charlottesville is a beautiful place where we built our lives and [my wife] worked hard to help those around her,” Pather said, reading from an impact statement from the survivor’s husband. “However, in one night he decided to destroy all that, to destroy our trust and faith and just days before Christmas.”

Pather also presented Dortch’s criminal history, which included a previous conviction in 2005 for abduction with the intent to defile. In 2009, Dortch was determined by a Virginia Beach court to be a violent sexual predator and was civilly committed to the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation for treatment until he was released in 2020.

Upon release in July 2020, Dortch was subject to probation and was monitored by an ankle monitor, according to Pather. However, Dortch soon failed to register as a sex offender and was charged for stalking a female co-worker from his new job.

He removed his ankle monitor on Oct. 30, 2020 and was soon added to the state’s most wanted list until he was arrested following his crimes in Charlottesville.

“Given the nature of the crimes and the fact that none of the alternatives available to the court, such as probation and treatment, have worked, the Commonwealth cannot request anything lower than the high end of the guidelines,” Pather said, requesting a sentence of 72 years or life in prison.

Dortch’s attorney, Mike Hallahan, argued that his client was already facing a lengthy sentence for crimes in Virginia Beach and would be in his 60s by the time he was released.

By avoiding trial and recognizing the harm he caused, Hallahan argued that Dortch had taken responsibility and deserved a sentence more toward the middle of the 30- to 48-year range.

According to Hallahan, Dortch plans to appeal his sentence.


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