Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 24, 2010

Convicted rapist will spend life in prison

TRAVERSE CITY -- A convicted rapist stared down his victim as he entered a local courtroom.

He approached the stand, dressed in an orange jumpsuit and shackles, and a judge ordered his fate -- life in prison.

Thirteenth Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power on Tuesday sentenced Charles Elmer Kovary, 38, of Buckley, to life in prison for what he called a "thoughtfully planned rape."

Jurors this month found Kovary guilty on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and a count of first-degree home invasion.

Kovary and another man broke into a woman's Karlin Road residence last September. They beat the woman and a masked Kovary dragged her from a bed and sodomized her, court records show.

The victim and her family were in court Tuesday, but refused to address Kovary and the judge prior to sentencing.

"They don't feel safe until Mr. Kovary is incarcerated," said Grand Traverse County Assistant Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg.

The life sentence stems from Kovary's initial count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The judge credited Kovary for 173 days served in the Grand Traverse County Jail.

Power said he factored in Kovary's "serious prior criminal record" when he determined the sentence. Kovary's criminal record includes felony drunken driving, cocaine possession, attempted breaking and entering, and a similar home invasion conviction 15 years ago.

He spent about six years in prison after authorities said he broke into a Traverse City home and attempted to sexually assault a woman.

Kovary plans to appeal. He signed a document Tuesday in court to request an attorney to appeal his multiple guilty verdicts.

One of Kovary's attorneys, Traverse City-based Thomas Seger, said the court process was "tough for everyone involved" and contends evidence wasn't sufficient to prove his client raped the woman.

"The testimonial evidence is very weak," he said. "It didn't provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

Kovary washed the victim in her bathtub shortly after the incident in an attempt to hide physical evidence, court records show.

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