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Former Uber driver sentenced to 22 years in prison for rape

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Former Uber driver sentenced to 22 years in prison for rape, sexual battery. (WPEC)

A former Uber driver convicted on several counts of sexual battery learned his fate Wednesday morning.

A judge sentenced Gary Kitchings to 22 years behind bars.

The judge said she took into consideration the fact that the 58-year-old has no criminal history, had never been arrested, and contributed to the community for more than two decades by serving as a foster parent.

The victim, who's not being identified, told the the judge and jury that since Kitchings raped her, her life has never been the same.

She said she has nightmares every night, can’t go back to work and has been diagnosed with PTSD.

"For several months after this happened to me, I have had nightmares every single night,” the victim said. “I have had nightmares where Gary breaks into my apartment and kills my dogs and me."

In May 2017, Kitchings picked up the victim at SunFest and drove her to her home in Jupiter.

She told the jury how Kitchings, she said, made her perform sex acts on him on the way to her house. Then, she told them how he later broke into her house and raped her.

Kitchings claimed it was consensual.

In March, jurors found Kitchings guilty of three of four counts of sexual battery, burglary with battery and false imprisonment.

During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, the judge also heard from Harold Davis, a former mentor who worked at A Place Of Hope, where Kitchings and his wife were foster parents.

Davis spoke highly of Kitchings, saying that he positively impacted the lives of more than 100 local kids within the foster system.

He said that while he wishes Kitchings didn’t put himself in “that situation,” he did not think differently about his friend.

Kitchings’ wife was also in the courtroom.

"Just because a man cheats, doesn’t mean a greater sentence should be imposed," Kitchings attorney said.

The judge said Kitchings will get 401 days served towards his sentence.

It’s a sentence no one seems to be happy about; both the prosecution and the victim wanted Kitchings to serve a life sentence.

Kitching’s state attorney asked for 26 years.

"Justice to me would be Gary served a life sentence in jail,” the victim told the judge.

But at 58 years old, Kitchings has never been arrested and never convicted of a crime until now and dedicated his life to fostering children at A Place of Hope in Palm Beach Gardens.

The judge took that into consideration when she made her ruling.

Kitchings’ public defender said all those good deeds, he says, shouldn’t be erased by Kitchings’ actions that one night.

“We can't take away all of the things he's done well in the past,” he said.

But the prosecutor was not buying it, saying Kitchings led a double life.

“Mr. Kitchings' phone was looked at,” the prosecuting attorney told the judge. “He was on Backpage. He was trolling for women every night that he was at work. He had a sex kit in the back of his car.”

As for the victim, she says the brutal nature of the crimes will never go away.

"I also have nightmares that I die and get killed in many different ways,” she said.

As for other possible victims, she’s confident she did the right thing by speaking up.

"I will always continue to do the right thing, which was to call 911, so people like Gary are held accountable and cannot do this again to anyone else,” she told the judge.

Kitchings’ public defender said he plans on appealing the case.

One of the reasons, he says, is because the victim accused another man of a similar rape in a hotel room in New York two years ago. That man, like Kitchings, was also convicted.

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