COLUMBIA — A Boone County jury on Wednesday found a Columbia man guilty of sexual assault and deviate sexual assault after deliberating for about two hours.
Eric Pierre Saverson, 46, was charged with forcible rape and forcible sodomy in connection with a March 11 incident in which an acquaintance said he raped her. After a two-day trial, the jury found him guilty of the lesser charges of sexual assault and deviate sexual assault, both class C felonies. In convicting Saverson of the lesser charges, the jury of three men and nine women thought Saverson did not use force, but that the victim did not give consent to the sexual encounter, said Shane McDoogan and Michael Byrne, Saverson’s attorneys.
Saverson faces up to 7 years in prison on each count.
He was convicted in 1995 of sexual assault and felonious restraint, serving five years in prison, according to court records. He was also awaiting trial in Boone County on a charge of failure to register as a sex offender.
On March 11, a Boone County woman testified that she and a friend went to the Upper Deck, 5951 N. Wagon Trail Road, to celebrate her birthday. She and her friend left, she said, and snorted cocaine at her apartment before meeting up with Saverson, whom her friend knew only as Rick. The three smoked crack for several hours at his apartment, in the 1500 block of Timber Creek Drive. The Missourian does not publish the names of rape victims without consent.
The woman went to sleep at Saverson’s home, waking to find that her friend was gone. Saverson and the victim left to get more crack, and they smoked it together and had consensual sex, the woman testified. Later, when she was gathering her belongings to leave Saverson’s home, he told her she could not leave until she paid him back for the crack she smoked, she testified.
“His whole face turned evil,” she said.
She testified that she dived for her cell phone to call 911, but Saverson struggled with her and threatened her with a glass bottle. She said she gave him her ATM card and the pin number. She later found that $600 had been withdrawn from her bank account.
“I wanted to leave alive,” she said.
The woman wiped tears from her face as she told the jury that Saverson raped her. He told her to take off her clothes, she testified, and forced her to touch his penis and perform oral sex on him before forcing her to have intercourse with him. After he raped her, she said, he threw her clothes at her and let her leave.
She testified that she flagged down a passing car and asked for a ride to the police station, where she reported the attack.
But she said she did not immediately press charges because she was afraid of him and of losing her job at a Columbia mental health facility.
A few days after the attack, the woman said she saw her attacker’s mug shot on the Boone County Sheriff’s Department’s online sex offender registry and alerted police.
During cross examination, the woman became visibly frustrated after McGoogan and Byrne pointed out inconsistencies in her story. They asked her why she previously gave investigators different timelines of that day. She answered that she did not know exactly what time it was because the day was in pieces, and that she did not remember it in a specific order.
“I told you, I’m not good with time,” she said.
Saverson will be sentenced at a later date by Judge Gary Oxenhandler.