According to his victim, who had just turned 11 when the rapes started, Shaun Everette Whitt, now 32, of Palm Coast, would come into her bedroom and assault her when her mother was at work. Once he raped her when she was trying to watch a movie. Other times he raped her in the living room or in her mother’s bedroom. She tried at times to get away but he overpowered her.
In January 2012, the girl, more than two years after the rapes had started, the girl built up the courage to tell her teacher in a note what had been happening. She was taken to the Children’s Advocacy Center for an interview, where she described the assaults, and said the last one had taken place just two days prior.
Whitt, formerly of 19 Forrester Lane in Palm Coast, was booked at the Flagler County jail on March 1, 2013, where he was held on $750,000 bond. (In jail records, he’s listed as Shawn. In court records, as Shaun.)
On Wednesday, Whitt was convicted of sexual battery on a victim younger than 12, a first-degree capital felony, and guilty of engaging in sexual conduct with a minor, a first-degree felony. A jury rendered a verdict in less than an hour before Flagler County Circuit Judge J. David Walsh.
Walsh sentenced Whitt to life in prison on count one and to thirty years in prison on count two.
Whitt was represented by public defender Regina Nunnally.
On Tuesday, the victim, now 14, testified in court for two hours, describing “in vivid detail her allegations against Whitt,” the News-Journal’s Tony Holt reported, noting the victim cried throughout. “There was no one to scream for,” Holt quoted the girl as saying, “explaining why she remained silent.”
Assistant State Attorney Christina Opsahl prosecuted the case, outlining the frequent and repeated sexual abuse perpetrated against the 11-year-old Victim by Whitt. Physical evidence and a medical examination presented at trial corroborated the victim’s story that Whitt would routinely force himself on the victim.
Whitt denied the allegations throughout, saying he’d never touched the girl inappropriately. He consented to DNA searches. A sexual assault kit submitted for evidence was negative, though the investigation noted that the victim had been menstruating and that the last assault had taken place two days before.
“The only item collected that came back positive for semen was a sample of carpet collected from the victim’s room,” the arrest report states. “The sample of carpet was taken from an area in the victim’s bedroom that was previously described by the victim where the defendant ‘laid’ her down and raped her.” DNA extracted from the sample of carpet was compared to the DNA samples previously collected from the victim and [Whitt]. The DNA came back positively identified as [Whitt’s] and mixed with the victim’s DNA.”
“This is another example of the crucial work the Career Criminal Unit accomplishes making our communities better and safer,” State Attorney R.J. Larizza said Wednesday after the sentence. “Our Career Criminal Unit charged, tried, and obtained a life sentence on an unrepentant sex offender. I am proud of Ms. Opsahl and her tenacity as a Career Criminal Prosecutor.”