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St. George » A St. George man convicted of raping and torturing a 16-year-old girl with a blowtorch and screwdriver was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole for aggravated kidnapping.
Marc Clifton Bryant, 48, who was convicted in absentia for the crimes that took place in 2004, was also sentenced to five years-to-life on three rape convictions and one-to-15 years for child abuse.
Fifth District Judge James L. Shumate ordered the sentences to run consecutively.
The sentence brought a cheer from a member of a group attending Wednesday's hearing with the victim.
The crimes occurred after Bryant befriended the victim's mother and moved in with the family. He saw himself as a father figure to the teen.
According to the victim's aunt, Bryant apparently became infatuated with the teen. He was convicted of raping and torturing the girl by handcuffing her to the headboard of a bed and attempting to burn the word "liar" into her forehead by using a screwdriver heated with a blowtorch.
The aunt said Bryant was jealous because he thought the victim had a boyfriend.
"He also choked her and tried to drown her in a bathtub," the aunt said after the sentencing.
After being charged, Bryant fled to Florida and did not appear at his April 2008 trial.
He was arrested in September at a Golden Corral restaurant in Jacksonville, Fla., after appearing on "America's Most Wanted" TV program.
"Your failure to show for trial is another indication of your guilt," Shumate said.
The judge commended the victim for her strength and courage through the legal ordeal, which included her testimony at the trial.
"When [the victim] said how you took a torch and used it to make a screwdriver red hot then burned her, leaving scars that are still visible, it was horrific," Shumate said. "I've been a judge for 34 years and involved in thousands of criminal cases, and during that time, I've seen few instances of such horrific behavior."
The victim's mother read a letter to the court in which she said her daughter still suffers from the 2004 incident.
"My daughter is terrified of everything," the mother said.
She also condemned Bryant for taking advantage of his position of trust with the daughter.
"Don't mess with my kids or family," the mother said. "You're a sick man, and I hope you rot in hell."
A letter from the victim detailed her struggles with memories of the incident. Her struggles include nightmares, distrust of people and, when she becomes overwhelmed, she seeks shelter in a closet.
"You can see the scars on my face, and I will always have them on the inside," the victim wrote.
Defense attorney Travis Christiansen asked the judge to treat the charges as a single crime and to take into account that Bryant and the mother were involved with drugs.
Shumate said he would not consider the drug use as a mitigating factor.
"I've known addicts, and none has ever tortured a human being as you have," Shumate told Bryant.
Throughout the hearing Wednesday, Bryant remained unrepentant, claiming the charges were excessive.
"This is b------t," he told the Shumate. "Not the court or you, judge, but the circumstances. This [case] is retribution for drugs I should have just given her the drugs."
Shumate says he hopes that the victim, now 21, gets mental health care.
"I want to take this opportunity to tell the victim it's over," Shumate said.