Screwed for Life

For a convicted rapist, the truth may not set you free.

Ginnane went on trial in Boulder in October 1992. He'd been offered deal after deal -- some of which would have required testifying against Garvin, who'd been accused of holding down the victim's head for the oral-sex act with Ginnane, then assaulting her himself. The final offer was a plea to third-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor that would have come with a deferred sentence, wiping Ginnane's record clean after a year if he behaved. But he refused the deal because it involved the word "sexual," and he believed he was innocent of sexual assault -- even if he still wasn't confessing to even consensual sex.

But Ginnane didn't feel too confident as he sat in the courtroom with the all-white jury, watching the white judge and the white prosecutors, listening to his white accuser say that she'd been forced to perform oral sex. Even as his defense committee -- several hundred members strong -- showed up to support him, feminist groups would come denounce him. Still, his lawyer had assured him that even if he were convicted, he'd get no more than probation.

And the jury did convict Ginnane -- the first instance of someone being convicted of acquaintance rape in Colorado, according to then-assistant DA Mary Keenan. The next day, Ginnane learned that the mandatory minimum for the crime was a sixteen-year prison sentence. It didn't matter that his victim would go to a case officer before sentencing to ask that Ginnane not be sent back to jail.

Kumbe Ginnane learned his lesson in the school of 
hard knocks.
Jim J. Narcy
Kumbe Ginnane learned his lesson in the school of hard knocks.

By the time he returned to court for sentencing, Ginnane had a new lawyer, David Lane, who says he tried to "unfuck the fucked." On the stand, Ginnane's previous attorney admitted that he'd done a bad job representing his client, failing to tell Ginnane of the consequences of a conviction or to put on much of a defense. He explained that he'd been handling personal problems -- including a divorce -- and had been basically homeless. (Later, it would come out that he was also addicted to coke.) After that, a parade of supporters -- friends and neighbors and community members -- testified on Ginnane's behalf, two days' worth, talking about his exemplary record, his supportive family, his work in the community. Judge Joseph Bellipanni sentenced him to eight years -- half of the mandatory minimum.

But even ninety days in prison -- fighting gangs, fighting homosexual advances, above all fighting boredom -- seemed like an eternity to the now 22-year-old. And at a sentence-reconsideration hearing that spring, Ginnane jumped through the loophole the judge had offered: He called himself a rapist. "He would have admitted to assassinating John Kennedy at that point," says Lane.

"I took the nuclear option, and I sold out," Ginnane says. "It hurt. The community was disappointed in me." (But when he told Garvin -- who'd also been convicted, and sentenced to ten years -- what he was going to do, Garvin had given him his blessing.)

Over Keenan's objections, the judge changed Ginnane's sentence to eight years' probation -- on the condition that he never deny his guilt or appeal the conviction. Ginnane was now out of jail, but in another sort of confinement: As a convicted sex offender, he had to comply with the state's stringent therapy requirements or risk being sent back to prison.

He finished college -- at the University of Colorado at Denver -- and started looking for a job. Not only did he want to get on with his life, but he had hefty, court-ordered-therapy bills to pay. Every time he admitted that he was a convicted sex offender, though, potential positions disappeared. He thought getting a master's in business might help, but it just prolonged the inevitable turn-down. At one point, modeling work kept him going -- but then someone called his agent and said that it was inappropriate for a date-rapist to be doing a cable ad for a dating program. Finally, he took a job moving furniture.

In sex-offender programs, he was lumped in with pedophiles, serial rapists. "We are the same," he writes. "I am grouped in the same category as the most horrible creatures out there. They tell you that in group, that all you guys are alike." To deny that he was like them was to be in denial.

At one point, Ginnane was put on the "peter meter," as Lane calls it, with an erection sensor placed over his penis while he lay in a reclining chair, watching graphic images overhead. "We began what consisted of an hour experiencing the most horrific, degrading, violent, sadistic, grotesque, morally reprehensible, sexually deviant, disease-infected perversions against women and children any sane man wouldn't wish on his worst enemy," Ginnane writes. "An eternal hour! I felt completely filthy.... At that moment, I truly believe I can understand, or at least relate, to what if feels like to be genuinely raped. Violated and filthy! But I had to pay several hundred dollars for it."

A few years later, he had to repeat the procedure. A few years after that, plathismographs were repudiated -- but the standards for sex-offender therapy in this state just grew more stringent. "I was really cooperative at first," he says, "because I thought I could complete this therapy. Then I realized that no one could complete this therapy."

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My Voice Nation Help

All I know is that Kumbe saved my life at the East Denver YMCA when I was a teen. I was thrown in the pool and he was the life guard didnt hesitate to help. He was always a gentleman, intelligent and sweet -and yes girls fell at his feet. I don't believe he forced her. I'm thinking she felt embarrassed that she was easy. I didn't know this happened to him and his family. I'll always respect you Kumbe. Much love SW