'Riverside Rapist' resentenced to life in prison

Man sentenced for series of rapes at age 16 now has chance for parole

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 30 years ago, Robert Roberson was sentenced to life in prison for several rapes he committed in the Riverside area the 1980s when he was 16 years old.

The teen, who came to be known as the Riverside Rapist, eventually admitted to 14 sexual assaults. He was charged in seven and was either convicted or pleaded no contest in all seven cases, plus two counts of robbery and two of burglary.

Roberson was convicted in December 1986 and sentenced to seven life sentences and two sentences of 15 years, but a resentencing was ordered after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that teens under the age of 18 could not be sentenced to life terms without parole.

Roberson, now 46, was smiling when he walked into a Duval County courtroom Wednesday, but his mood quickly changed. He listened as Judge Angela Cox reviewed the history of his crimes and his childhood, finding Roberson had come from an abusive family and was also sexually abused.

"The evidence shows your home life is unstable, violent and neglectful," Cox told Roberson. "The evidence shows you witnessed violence and were the victim of childhood violence from those supposed to care for you."

In foster care, Roberson was described as friendly and nurturing, but the severity of his crimes required the maximum sentence to protect the community.

'These crimes are the complete definition (of) 'irreparable corruption,'" Cox said. "There is no sentence other than life that will protect the community."

Roberson began to slump over as Cox re-sentenced him to life in prison, but with one change: The sentence can be reviewed in 10 years by the Florida Parole Board

 Cox ruled that sentences for all the crimes will be served concurrently. 

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