Victim Recounts Sexual Assault During Perpetrator’s Sentencing

One of two victims 20-year-old Darnell Peoples pleaded guilty to sexually abusing said she would never walk alone again during the defendant’s sentencing hearing.

Peoples admitted to sexually assaulting two women on Sept. 15 and 16, 2021, on the 1700 block of Gainesville Street, SE. He pleaded guilty to third-degree sex abuse and misdemeanor sex abuse and was sentenced on March 21.

“It has been six months since I was near my daughter’s home,” one of the victims said during the proceedings. “Before I was attacked by Mr. Peoples, I would walk my dog. I walked past a younger lady and the defendant. The younger lady told me, hello but the defendant did not. I walked across the street once the traffic cleared but I got a sense that someone was following me.”

“As I turned around, I felt a man grab my buttocks and pushed me to the ground,” she continued. “He repeatedly said to me, ‘Come on, give it up.'” 

She said that for some reason, he stopped assaulting her but took her phone instead.

“I will never walk alone again,” the victim said. “It is very scary that this man will be back into the neighborhood preying on women.” 

The prosecutor wanted Peoples to receive both rehabilitative treatment and prison time. He asked DC Superior Court Judge Rainey Brandt to impose a two-year sentence for the third-degree sexual abuse charge and a 180-day sentence followed by two years of probation for the misdemeanor sex abuse charge.

“[Peoples] is well above and at an active risk of committing another assault based on his criminal score,” he said.

The defendant has previously been convicted of multiple counts of misdemeanor sex abuse.

Defense attorney Jason Kalafat asked Judge Brandt to impose an 18-month sentence with six of those months suspended since Peoples has been held at DC Jail for approximately six months before the sentencing. Kalafat also asked Judge Brandt to impose the Youth Rehabilitation Act, which would allow his case to be sealed if he successfully completes his sentence.

“[Peoples’] father was murdered in 2016 and after that, he was beaten and bullied in high school, which led to him dropping out in the 11th grade,” he said.

Judge Brandt was curious as to why Peoples did not have anything to say to the courts or to the victim.

“I find it interesting that the victim was giving her statement and you showed no remorse. I gave you the opportunity to say you were sorry and that you were young and a changed man, but you chose to say nothing,” Judge Brandt said. She later denied the defense’s request to impose the YRA.  

“The Youth Act should not be used to shield sex offenders. The public has the right to know plus he has failed probation twice and has had two adult cases against him,” she said. 

Judge Brandt sentenced Peoples to 180 days for the misdemeanor sex abuse charge. For the third-degree sex abuse charge, she sentenced the defendant to 24 months, half of which was suspended, followed by two years of supervised probation. The prison sentences will run consecutively.

As part of his probation, Peoples must receive a mental health evaluation, a sexual assault evaluation and drug treatment. He is also required to register as a sex offender for 10 years.