A repeat sexual offender with a decades-long history of violent crime will serve up to 70 years in prison for his latest attack – the attempted rape of a Franklin & Marshall College student.
Anthony L. Rutter, 48, pleaded guilty Monday in Lancaster County Court to attempted rape and related counts regarding the Feb. 28, on-campus attack which happened hours after Rutter was released from state prison after he maxed out on a sentence.
The victim, a 19-year-old freshman, fought back, prompting the response of another student and causing Rutter to flee the dormitory.
Rutter will serve 35 to 70 years in prison, in accordance with an agreement arranged by Assistant District Attorney Fritz Haverstick, who outlined in court the harrowing attack and Rutter’s “extraordinary history of violence against women.”
Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker accepted the plea terms and ordered sentence, while commending the victim for her bravery. Both the victim and the woman who rushed to her aid were in court for the hearing.
Haverstick said Rutter has spent about 2½ years outside of prison since 1994. In those decades, Haverstick explained, it has been a cycle of committing crimes, serving full prison terms, then committing new crimes upon release.
This sentence will stop that “revolving door,” Haverstick said in court. Rutter has prior convictions for indecent assault (multiple), attempted rape, stalking, aggravated assault (of a police officer), and robbery.
When President Judge Reinaker asked for comment Monday, Rutter declined.
The Feb. 28 incident was described this way in court:
Rutter was released from the state prison in Montgomery County about 8:30 a.m. He committed the crimes at F&M about 11 p.m.
Rutter initially followed two female students to their dorm and attempted entry, but the building’s secured access prevented him from gaining entry. He eventually followed the victim into the building as she used her access pass.
He then attacked the woman; she tried to push him off and told him to stop – Rutter told her, “There is no stopping.”
Rutter grabbed the woman and threw her to the ground while continuing to grab her body. The woman continued to fight and scream.
Another student heard the screams and rushed toward the area through an interior door (not the building entrance). Rutter then fled.
On-campus surveillance cameras helped campus police locate Rutter in minutes. He was on the fringe of the campus and taken into custody.
In interviews with Lancaster city police, Rutter initially denied being on campus, but when confronted with surveillance evidence he admit to attacking the woman in attempt to rape her.
Haverstick noted that Rutter’s prior crimes mostly involved attacks on individuals he viewed as weaker. The victim this time was stronger than Rutter, said Haverstick, who also commended the second student for running toward danger when she heard screams.
Haverstick also credited campus police for instant action which led to the arrest.
Lancaster city police Officer Matthew Odenthal filed charges and was in court, along with other city police, including the detective Rutter assaulted years ago.
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