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A 71-year-old Rapid City man was sentenced Thursday to spend the next 10 years in prison for the 2016 rape of a 56-year-old woman with dementia.

Roger Jackson made a "willful decision to ignore the obvious" signs of his victim's inability to consent, Circuit Judge Jane Wipf Pfeifle said before issuing her sentence. "The planning, the secrecy" and ignoring instructions not to take the woman out of her nursing home were "so very disturbing," she said.

"Probation is not an option here," Pfeifle said Thursday, asking how Jackson could be trusted to follow orders from a probation officer if he couldn't follow the nursing home's rules.

She sentenced him to 15 years in prison with five years suspended, which means he will spend 10 years in the state penitentiary and five years on probation.

Pfeifle said she would also sign orders of protection so Jackson can't contact his victim, her family and the two nursing homes she's lived at. Jackson won't be able to spend time with children under the age of 16 without permission from a parole officer, and if he ever has to live in a nursing home, the facility must be alerted of his crime.

Jackson could have faced up to 25 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of third-degree rape on June 29. They concluded that the woman was unable to give consent as a result of early-onset dementia.

The victim's husband, speaking at the beginning of the hearing, called Jackson's crime "premeditated and planned."

He said Jackson's rejection of two plea deals and attempt to blame him and his family, show Jackson has "a lack of desire to take responsibility for what he did." And going through the trial was like "having to relive" the crime. 

Mark Vargo, state's attorney, echoed Pfeifle and the victim's husband's points about the rape being pre-planned, calling it "textbook grooming."

Vargo said Jackson taught music to the victim at a nursing home and later progressed to dancing with her. He said Jackson eventually followed her to another facility that provides more intensive care. Then, on Nov. 18, 2016, Jackson raped the woman after he took her outside of the locked facility, even though he had been told not to. After she came back that night, nursing home staff found fluid with blood in the woman’s diaper, the prosecution said during the trial.

The woman's inability to consent should have been obvious to anyone, Vargo said at the sentencing. She could not dress herself or brush her teeth, and had both short- and long-term memory loss, he said. She was a kind woman who said "yes" to everything because she wanted to please everyone.

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"Her impairments would have been recognizable," Vargo said. But "like every other sexual predator," Jackson was "not interested in an equal partner."

Vargo said that like other abusers, Jackson blamed his victim, saying she came onto him and undressed herself, even though she is incapable of doing so. And he blamed her family for putting her in a nursing home.

Those actions, and claiming that he was falsely charged and convicted, show a "clear and stunning lack of remorse," Vargo said. He said Jackson also told a probation officer that he believes his victim misses him in the nursing home.

Vargo said Jackson not taking responsibility shows he could re-offend again, and said he disagreed with his psycho-sexual evaluation that said he had a low-risk to re-offend. He also said the report found that Jackson admitted to fantasizing about having sex with underage girls.

Vargo's sentencing requests were what Pfeifle later agreed to.

Jackson did not address the court, and Alecia Fuller, one of his defense lawyers, spoke very briefly during the sentencing.

Fuller said if Vargo had any issues with the psycho-sexual report, he should have directed his concerns to the doctor who wrote it. She then asked Pfeifle to follow the sentencing recommendation of that report.

While Fuller did not say what the recommendation was, it was likely a more lenient sentence than what Jackson received. After the sentencing, she would not tell the Journal what the recommendation was, and the Journal could not view the sealed document.

Pfeifle said she made her decision aware of Jackson's lack of criminal history and older age, but said his age didn't prevent him from committing the crime. She said she read letters of support sent by his friends and family, but noted that one admitted to him making "one mistake."

After the sentencing, Jackson, who was out of jail on a $50,000 cash or surety bond, followed a sheriff's deputy toward the Pennington County Jail without being handcuffed. 

Outside the courtroom, the victim's husband quietly teared up as he thanked Vargo's team for prosecuting the case.

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— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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