A former Atlanta police officer will spend decades behind bars after a jury found him guilty of rape.
A Cherokee County jury reached the guilty verdict for Lionel Joseph Dely on Oct. 21, according to the district attorney's office. Dely was sentenced to 50 years in prison followed by life on probation and other conditions.
Cherokee County Superior Court Judge Tony Baker told Dely before his sentencing that he had "a very cold heart" and "treated these women as if they were nothing."
"Your badge is supposed to be used to serve and protect, but you used it to abuse and prey on these women," Baker said.
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The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office says a woman reported the rape to deputies on Feb. 2. The woman told investigators she runs a massage business out of her home and a new client arrived for his scheduled appointment.
Prosecutors said halfway through the appointment the client, identified as Dely, showed his APD badge and said he was conducting an investigation. That is when Dely sexually assaulted her.
The victim said she feared repercussions because Dely intimidated her with his badge. She called 911 to report the crime three days later after a friend convinced her.
Deputies launched an investigation and learned that Dely was in fact an Atlanta police officer. Prosecutors said there was enough evidence to charge Dely with rape. He turned himself over the authorities and the Atlanta police department fired him.
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The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office learned about three other victims that Dely had sexually assaulted in other counties. While they could not add charges in Cherokee County, the victims agreed with deputies to testify at Dely's trial.
The trial lasted five days. It only took the jury one hour to reach an unanimous guilty verdict on the rape and violation of oath charges. Two of Dely's victims gave impact statements during his sentencing.
"I am standing here, not a helpless victim, but a warrior who faced evil, stood up, and said enough is enough. I stand here today because I deserve justice," one woman said.
"I can't tell you how grateful I am that I am free and Lionel Dely is not," another woman said. She added that she came forward to report her rape and testify so Dely wouldn't hurt anyone else.
Baker sentenced Dely to 45 years in prison for the rape count and another five years for the violation of oath count. Dely will be required to spend life on probation and register as a sex offender. He must also have no contact with the victims and pay $1,100 in restitution.
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