‘You made my life a living hell’: Rape victim confronts assailant before judge sends him away for life

More than 20 years after a Tampa woman was raped by an armed assailant, she recounted the incident as she testified at her attacker's sentencing hearing.

Her walk to the witness stand took 22 years to happen, but once she was there, a rape survivor unleashed years of anguish at the man who raped her.

"For 20 years, you made my life a living hell," she said.

Antonio Rivers was convicted by a jury in June. For two decades the cold case went unsolved.

At his sentencing, the survivor explained the years of failed relationships, mistrust in men, and mental torture she endured.

"I used to look at men and wonder was this the person that sexually harassed me? Was this the person that did this to me?" she stated.

During the week-long trial, she told the jury on the night of December 17, 2000, she had returned to her sister’s home around 10:30 p.m. and walked in on an armed robber who broke in through a window. She said he was wearing a mask and pointed a gun at her demanding money. 

She told him she didn’t have any money and that’s when she says he forced her into the bathroom and sexually assaulted her.

"I was just praying, 'Please don't kill me. Please don't kill me,'" she testified.

DNA and fingerprint evidence from the scene was collected, but some of it was mishandled or destroyed.

Convicted rapist Antonio Rivers in courtroom during sentencing hearing.

However, 20 years later, there was a DNA hit that pointed directly at Rivers. 

The survivor remembers getting taunting messages on Facebook from Rivers years after the attack.

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"You stalked me on Facebook. I never knew you. I never met you," she said. 

Rivers took the stand too. He said he wasn't a menace to society. Instead, he claimed that he was a product of a broken home. He later spoke directly to the survivor.

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"I’m sorry. For that, I wish you the best and I pray that this gives you closure," testified Rivers.

However, none of it swayed Tampa judge Michael Williams who handed down a life sentence.

"At the end of the day, Mr. Rivers, your actions speak for themselves. It’s a horrible case. It’s a horrible set of facts," stated Williams.

Rapist’s mother hugs victim in a Tampa courtroom 22 years after attack.

Rivers is going away for life. On the other end of the courtroom, a rare moment as many witnessed Rivers’ mother hugging his rape survivor. 

After two decades, the healing finally begins for the victim.