Larry Cavallaro, 75, a former gallery owner in Flagler Beach, pleaded guilty today to raping a woman at his home in Beverly Beach in December 2017. He could have faced up to 15 years in prison, 30 years had he been found guilty on the original charge. But he will not serve more than the one day in jail, a day he served in 2019, when he was initially booked on the accusation and promptly posted $100,000 bail.
Circuit Judge Terence Perkins sentenced Cavallaro to two years of house arrest followed by eight years of sex-offender probation, with no possibility of early termination–a remarkably lenient sentence considering either the original charge or the reduced charge to which he pleaded, the nature of the offense, and the four and a half years of complete freedom Cavallaro enjoyed in the interim as the case dragged.
Cavallaro had originally been charged with first-degree felony rape, a charge that carries a 30-year prison sentence if convicted. In a plea negotiated between his attorney, Warren Lindsey, and Assistant State Attorney Melissa Clark, with the victim’s consent, the charge was lessened to “sexual battery under specified circumstances of threat or coercion,” meaning that Cavallaro raped the victim, 40 at the time, after she’d become incapacitated by drinks he made for her and a friend. Under the paradoxical law, the woman was incapacitated, but Cavallaro did not use force.
The victim woke up in Cavallaro bed after passing out from the single drink he’d made her. In her daze, she found him assaulting her.
The woman had known Cavallaro for about a year and a half. He’d employed her to help him rent out the very beach house where the assault took place, at at 2654 North Oceanshore Boulevard. The afternoon of Dec. 17, 2017, he’d invited her and her friend over to pay her for that assistance.
“This has been four and a half years of a really tragic event that occurred at 3 p.m. when I went to my job, just to do a job, and it didn’t end that way,” the victim, overcoming a broken voice, said on the stand this afternoon. Cavallaro sat across the room from her, seemingly in the same room for the first time since the assault. “Someone I trusted and I worked for destroyed me mentally, physically, financially, morally and criminally. For no set reason. No behavior ever, ever happened for this to happen to me. Nothing. So today, we’re here, you’re pleading to what you did, as I asked you to do in the beginning and you took four long years to do this. It could have been done in the beginning. We all make mistakes. This is horrible. You ruined my life. You didn’t care about my 24-year marriage.”
No fewer than 29 pre-trial hearings, motions and other procedural steps before the judge unfolded since the charge was filed.
“I save lives. I don’t destroy them. I’m a nurse,” the woman continued, before again turning to him: “Comprehend what is going on today.” She said she was still waiting for an explanation “as to why,” and for an apology. She said it was never too late to apologize.
Cavallaro did not proffer an apology.
Back at the podium with his attorney, standing in a suit and tie, his hands folded on top of a rim of the podium the whole time, Cavallaro did what many defendants do in the circumstances. He gave the judge “yes” and “no” answers, tacking on the required honorific, but did not go beyond that. The judge didn’t ask him if he had anything additional to say, nor did Cavallaro say it, except when he seemed perplexed at the reading of the charge, which his attorney attempted to soften by reading the wording of the law itself, which veils the gravity of rape in jargon.
Pre-trial hearings revealed nearly step-by-step details of those hours at Cavallaro’s home, when he had made the two women a drink called rum runner, only one of which appeared to incapacitate the victim and eventually make the other sick, though she left before the victim did. The victim asked to lie down. Her friend’s boyfriend would later describe seeing his girlfriend very sick, suggesting that both women’s drinks may have been spiked. One of the pre-trial hearings and depositions of a toxicologist attempted to deconstruct what may have been in the drinks and what effect it would have.
The victim’s husband had become concerned that night when his wife did not come home, went looking for her and found her car at Cavallaro’s. He went in, and reported seeing Cavallaro “jump up from under the covers of the bed wearing only unbuttoned and partially zipped blue jeans and no shirt,” according to Cavallaro’s arrest report. His wife was so intoxicated that he thought she needed medical attention. He took her to a shelter for physically and sexually abused women.
The sentence was a significant “downward departure” from the recommended sentence of several years in prison. The judge usually explains why a downward departure is warranted. He did not do so in this case.
During today’s plea and sentencing, Lindsay sought for his client–and was granted–four exceptions to the conditions that attach to sex offenders when they are on probation, such as a dispensation from the prohibition on living within 1,000 feet of a school, a church or other places where children gather, and a dispensation from the prohibition on volunteering in places where children gather. The exceptions are according to law, since those conditions apply only to sex offenders whose crimes were committed against children. But numerous other conditions still apply.
Cavallaro stopped dividing his time, as he used to, between Winter Park and Flagler several years ago. He now lives in Pinellas County, where he will serve his house arrest and probation terms. Either way, and unlike most defendants who plead guilty to raping a woman, he got to go home today.
- Judge Rules Against Excluding Key Interview with Detectives in Larry Cavallaro Rape Case as Details Emerge
- Prosecution Wins Key Ruling to Buttress Alleged Rape Victim’s Testimony in Larry Cavallaro’s Coming Trial
- Facing Rape Charge, Larry Cavallaro Is Briefly Booked at Flagler Jail and Released on $100,000 Bond
- Former Flagler Beach Gallery Owner Arrested on Charge of Drugging and Raping a Woman