NEW YORK - Raped as an 8-year-old by her then-stepfather, a woman kept the secret from her family for nearly a decade until she drafted a college application essay, prosecutors say.
When it happened, "I never told anyone ... at that point in my life, I was scared," she wrote.
But after she told her story to a Brooklyn jury, her now ex-stepfather was convicted Thursday of rape and other charges. He faces up to 25 years in prison at his sentencing, set for June 30.
The man was arrested after the woman's mother saw the essay and called police.
The 62-year-old man has denied the allegations, and his lawyer has portrayed the essay as a bid for admissions officers' sympathy. The lawyer didn't return a call after the verdict.
The Associated Press is withholding the man's name because disclosing it could identify his accuser. The AP generally does not identify sexual assault victims unless they come forward publicly.
The man raped the stepdaughter three times in 2003, according to a court complaint. But the accusation didn't come to light until 2012, when she set out to answer a Florida religious college's application question about what had made her who she was, Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Anna Krutaya said in a closing argument earlier this week.
When her mother married her ex-stepfather, "at first I thought he was OK, but as the years progressed he really was not," she wrote in the essay, which was read alyud in court. "Toward the end of the marriage he began to rape me."
By the time she wrote the essay, her mother and the man had been divorced for years, the mother had remarried, and the daughter had reconnected with her religion, she wrote.
"All I have been through has made me the person I am today," she concluded.
Her former stepfather's lawyer portrayed the charges as a product of an ex-wife's vengeance and a college applicant's ambition.
"It's her best effort to try to get the attention of the admissions committee of that college, said the attorney, Ernest Hammer.