ROCKVILLE — Circuit Court Judge Cheryl A. McCally on Friday sentenced a man who was convicted of the sexual assault of a woman on a Metro train to life in prison.
John Prentice Hicks, 41, will serve two consecutive life sentences in prison after a jury convicted him of first-degree rape and first-degree sex offense. Hicks raped a woman on the Red Line and ordered her at knifepoint to perform fellatio on him in April 2016.
The victim asked McCally to give Hicks the maximum sentence so he would not get out on parole.
“He already had other victims,” she said to McCally. “Let me be his last.”
The victim said she still suffers panic attacks, nightmares and emotional outbursts as a result of the rape. She said the scar on her right middle finger where Hicks cut her with a knife will always remind her of the incident on April 12, 2016.
McCally said the woman continues to suffer “nothing short of a living hell” because of Hicks’ attacking the victim.
Prosecutor Donna Fenton said the victim’s bravery in approaching station managers immediately upon leaving the Metro train, even though Hicks ordered her to remain on the train car, enabled police to arrest him the same day.
“Because of her bravery, and because of her strength of character, she was able to direct the police to her attacker, and he was taken into custody that night,” Fenton said.
McCally, too, commented on the victim’s courage to leave the train and to immediately seek help, despite what had just happened to her.
“It will never leave my mind that you directed her as a caged animal,” McCally said to Hicks.
Metro Transit Police were able to identify Hicks from the security camera footage in the station, and they used data from Hicks’ SmarTrip card to confirm he was riding the Metro at the time the incident occurred and to ultimately determine his home address, where they arrested him.
Hicks’ attorney Samantha Sandler said her client is not a monster and was struggling with drug addiction at the time of the rape.
“I wanted [to say] I am truly sorry that [the victim] had to go through a traumatic experience,” Hicks said to McCally.
The victim, who was in the courtroom for the sentencing, shook her head as if to disagree with Hicks’ statement.
The case became controversial later in 2016 when riders and elected officials complained that Metro Transit Police did not inform the public of the incident. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said he did not inform people because Metro Transit Police took the suspect into custody on the day of the incident. However, he said Metro Transit Police would start informing the public about violent crimes that occurred, if it didn’t interfere with ongoing police investigations.
“People have the right to have the sense that it is safe [to ride the Metro],” said McCally to Hicks. “April 12th you made sure that it wasn’t safe.”