SEATTLE - The Seattle woman who fought off a sexual predator in a Ballard park bathroom faced him again Friday to see him sentenced in a King County courtroom.
Gary Steiner was sentenced to 36 months of an indeterminate sentence, meaning after he serves his time, he will appear before a state sentence review board, which could assign him more time behind bars. He had pleaded guilty to second-degree assault with sexual motivation.
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“Just to have some closure and resolution feels really good,” Kelly Herron said. She escaped that attack using skills from a recent self-defense class provided by her employer. “This was not just about me. This is about protecting the community. This is about protecting other women.”
Herron shared with the court the impact of the March 2017 attack.
“I have nightmares every single night and I often wake up screaming,” she said. “The moment right before he launched into a brutal attack… this moment is burned into my mind.”
She had been training for a marathon when she stopped during her run to use the bathroom at Ballard’s Golden Gardens Park.
Police said Steiner was hiding in a stall and attacked and tried to rape her.
“I survived this vicious assault because I fought back with every fiber of my being,” she said.
Steiner appeared to break down in court, choking out apologies.
“I’m sorry for my actions,” he said. “Every time I mess up, I do something wrong— it hits me in the face.”
Steiner is a Level 3 sex offender convicted of assaulting several women in Arizona.
Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell said by law, he was required to give Steiner credit for time already served, despite the fact that both Herron and Steiner himself asked the judge not to.
Herron said it was tough to face her attacker again and that she felt “nothing” when he apologized.
“I don’t care,” she said. “When it comes to repeat sex offenders who have done this time and time again, who have been given opportunities to get back out and when they get back out they keep doing this… it’s very hard to feel sorry for somebody if they’re up there crying.”
She is now working on a podcast, "Not Today," which she said will feature strong women who have overcome adversity.
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