Contract rapist sentenced to 40 years in prison

A Nome jury found Austin Matthias, 24, guilty on two counts of Sex Assault in the first degree and one count of Assault in the second degree in the contract rape of another man on behalf of convicted drug and alcohol dealer Julia Haworth, to whom the victim owed money. During the incident in the village Saint Michael, Matthias punched the victim in the face and injured his nose, according to court testimony. 

The victim was unconscious during part of the crime and sustained serious injuries, which took him out of town by emergency flight for treatment, according to court records.

Alcohol was involved at the gathering during the rape at the victim’s Saint Michael home in April 2017.

Matthias sentence date came two years later, on April 17.

Second District Superior Court Judge Romano D. DiBenedetto handed down a two part sentence—40 years with 20 suspended for one act of rape and 40 years with 20 years suspended for a second act of rape, both committed one after another. The pair of 20-year jail terms will be served one after another, with no overlap.

The state had put forth that the two sex assault in the first degree crimes should not merge for one sentence because Matthias had engaged in two separate sexual acts, which included one act with hand and fingers.

During his trial, Matthias testified that he had raped the victim at the request of Haworth, 31, who had shown him a photo of his wife some days before threatening to kidnap and torture Matthias’ wife if he did not perform the “favor” for Haworth.

Matthias said at trial that he had agreed to perform sodomy on the man because he was afraid of Haworth and afraid for his wife. Other witnesses during the trial said Haworth was scary and “crazy.”

Matthias’ counsel, Matthew Tallerico, brought out that point as a mitigator in his remarks at the sentence hearing April 17, that Matthias had been under duress. 

“Her own fiancé feared her. He wanted to get away from her. A lot of people feared her. She was a dangerous person,” Tallerico said.

However, Tom Jamgochian, assistant district attorney, noted that there had been a time gap between Haworth showing him the photo of his wife and Matthias performing the rapes, during which time he could have contacted law enforcement or otherwise sought help.

“He didn’t try to call the troopers, he didn’t call his wife n Anchorage. He made no effort at all, but just went along with this fairly horrific crime,” Jamgochian told the court. 
Prosecution dismissed three other charges on which Matthias had been indicted—Sex Assault 1, penetration without consent, an unclassified felony; Burglary 1, Class B felony; and Sex Assault 2, penetrate an incapacitated victim.

Matthias testified that he had the victim’s consent, as when he offered the victim a choice of having a bone broken or getting raped, the victim chose rape. The victim said he did not want to lose a body part, according to Matthias.

Three aggravators to the crime came up during sentencing. An aggravator allows the court to hand down a harsher sentence.

After the jury of 12 returned the verdict Sept. 13, Superior Court Judge Romano DiBenedetto accepted the verdict and asked jurors to return to the jury room to decide yes or no answers on the three aggravating factors in the crimes. 
Yes, the jury reported—the three counts had involved gratuitous cruelty beyond commission of the crimes themselves, and second, the crimes were the extreme example of the crime description, and third, Matthias had received monetary reward for raping the victim.

“The count involving the use of his hand and fingers was gratuitously inflicted,” Jamgochian said, and noted that the act was not for sexual gratification, which could receive treatment, but for monetary gain.

“The defendant will never cease to need money. It was purely, and frankly gratuitous torture-related sexual assault,” he said.

“A very significant sentence should be opposed, based on the low likelihood of rehabilitation and the high community condemnation,” said Jamgochian.

Matthias testified he had worked for Haworth for several years, serving as her muscle to collect debts in her bootleg business. According to Matthias’ testimony in court, he had beaten up about 50 to 100 people a year to collect debts owed to Haworth and had been paid by her.

During his allocution at sentencing, Matthias told the court he had exacted debt collection on far fewer people than he stated from the witness stand. He had been troubled by voices. He had issue with his medicines, which clouded his thinking, Matthias told the court. He had never done the rape and assault.

The jury had found that Matthias committed two rapes and found beyond reasonable doubt the aggravating factors of cruelty, the most serious form of the crime on both acts of Sexual Assault First Degree, and that it had been committed out of pecuniary interest, DiBenedetto said.

“Mr. Matthias offers as a mitigator being under some degree of duress. In terms of the aggravators, the jury has already found those. I believe they are justified based on the evidence I have heard in this case,” he said. “The theme throughout this case is that he was just taking orders from Julia, who has been presented as a person who had the ability to give orders to do something like this.

“In the history of the world, Mr. Matthias, the most at atrocious crimes on the planet have been done under the guise of  ‘I was just following orders,’” DiBenedetto said. “I think there is no harm greater than rape. It takes away the person’s dignity. It takes away their humanity. I don’t think I was just following orders was a valid defense when this is the kind of harm we are talking about. The way to assimilate that or to agree with that, for me, I would have to disregard what it means to be a society, a community. I can’t do it, and I won’t,” DiBenedetto declared.

“Starting with the restoration of [the victim], there’s absolutely nothing I can say to restore him. There just isn’t. Beyond the physical pain he had to have endured, the memory is going to be with him until the end of his life. There is nothing I can do to erase it,” the judge said.

“When it comes to general deterrence, I’ve said often enough that I don’t think that this community or any community in this region needs me to tell them that sexual assault is wrong. When it comes to specific deterrence, I think there is a call for that in this case to the extent that if anybody orders you, asks you, tells you to do something, you have to have an individual conscience, an individual free choice. You have to make the decision as to whether or not you are going to do it,” DiBenedetto continued.

“The offense in this case really hits the core of degradation beyond very little else I can think of,” he said. “The state established beyond a reasonable doubt that there were two distinct penetrations. The second penetration was more gratuitous and degrading than the first penetration. The crime got worse as it went on; it didn’t get better,” DiBenedetto continued. 

For the guilty verdict Sexual Assault First Degree—  penetration with penis, the sentence is 40 years with 20 suspended. The sentence will run consecutive to Sexual Assault First Degree, penetration with fingers or hand, the same sentence, 40 years with 20 suspended, all to run consecutively, 15 years probation, all conditions imposed by the probation department.

On March 26, Julia Haworth received a sentence of 25 years, 10 suspended, 10 years’ probation for a guilty conviction after a change of plea to guilty of Sex Assault Two with an aggravator. 

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