“You have been found guilty of rape of the most vulnerable people in our society,” White told the defendant. “Until today, I found no sign of any remorse. You were in a position of trust where you should have been protecting them instead of acting as a predator.”
Fairfax County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney George Freeman IV relayed some of the shocking facts of the case beforehand: Both victims, ages 29 and 33, are so impaired they could not fully communicate the abuse they suffered or understand what was happening to their bodies when they became pregnant. Both women attended a day program at MVLE, where Betts-King, of Springfield, was a behavioral technician.
The brother of one of the victims said after the hearing that he was “relieved” and agreed with everything the judge had said in the sentencing. The man said his 76-year-old grandmother is taking care of the child and that he might in time become the girl’s guardian. The Washington Post is not naming the man, his sister or the child because it generally does not name victims of sexual assault or provide information that could identify them.
The brother said the family has embraced the child, although care and finances have been a struggle. He said his sister, 33, who has autism and Down syndrome, still does not fully comprehend what it means to be a mother.
“My sister, because of her mental state, doesn’t have maternal instincts,” the man said. “We are trying to get her to understand how to care for the child.”
The family of the second victim, 29, did not come to the hearing Friday, but they, too, are caring for her child. Prosecutors had previously described the victim as having the mind of a 5-year-old.
The first case came to light with a jolt in October 2017. The 29-year-old victim went in for a checkup, but the doctor quickly discovered the woman was five months pregnant, Freeman told the court before Betts-King pleaded guilty to two counts of rape in July.
“This came as a surprise to her mother,” Freeman said in court then. The woman “did not indicate in any way to her mother that this was the case.”
Attempts were made to explain what it meant to be pregnant, but the woman did not comprehend because of her disability, Freeman said. Months later, after the woman went into labor, doctors were forced to perform a Caesarean section because she did not understand their requests for her to push.
Fairfax County police said they investigated the first rape, but the woman was unable to say how she became pregnant, so the case initially did not go anywhere. Advocates said such problems are common and are one of the reasons people with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at seven times the rate of people without disabilities, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The same disturbing pattern would play out again in 2018. The second victim went to the doctor to have a mole removed, but the doctor discovered she was also five months pregnant.
Freeman said during the July plea that the second victim told police a man named “Bernard” had touched her and that she didn’t like it. Freeman said the woman had the intellectual capacity of a 12-year-old and had never been taught about sex.
The first woman’s baby was born in February 2018, while the second woman’s child arrived in November of last year. Betts-King was arrested in February after a DNA test proved he was the father of the second victim’s baby. Another DNA test showed he was the father of the first victim’s baby, too.
Betts-King, who appeared in court Friday in a green Fairfax County jail jumpsuit, rose and read an apology before he was sentenced. His attorney said Betts-King had told him he was depressed during the period he carried out his crimes. Betts-King had spent 22 years working with the intellectually disabled.
“I am deeply sorry for what I’ve done,” Betts-King read in court. “I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me.”
The brother of 33-year-old victim said the family had considered giving up his niece for adoption, but that his grandmother had decided against it. He said the family loves the girl deeply.
“My grandmother feels it’s her life purpose to be a positive light,” the brother said. “She is an extremely strong woman. She’s raised a few generations.”
The girl is already walking and is adventurous and curious about the world, the brother said. The girl’s first birthday is next week. The theme of the party will be lemonade.
“You have to turn lemons into lemonade,” the brother said.