A sex offender faces up to 31 years prison after being found guilty Friday night of beating and raping a woman he had been dating.
Peter Fossett, 37, was found guilty of battery, sexual battery and aggravated battery after the Manatee County jury of six deliberated five hours late into Friday night. He will be sentenced at 11 a.m. Nov. 15.
Fossett is required to register as a sex offender because of a 2005 Ohio conviction in which he solicited a 15-year-old girl for sex. Fossett had previously registered in Ohio and his home state of Kentucky, but he failed to register when he moved to Manatee County in 2015.
As a result, Fossett is facing a separate felony charge for failing to register as a sexual offender in a separate case.
Fossett has been held at Manatee County jail since his initial arrest Aug. 24, 2015. He will now be held without bond until his sentencing hearing.
Fossett had been facing charges of kidnapping, involuntary sexual battery and aggravated battery but was found guilty of lesser charges on two of the counts.
Testimony in the trial began Thursday, wrapping up late Friday afternoon with closing arguments.
“He kept her in there by threat,” Assistant State Attorney Dickey Hough told the jury. “He had (the victim) there in a position where she is terrified, she is under the threat of harm.”
By law’s definition, the victim was kidnapped, he went on to say.
“His actions with terrorizing her and threats of death, threatening her, harming her. ... He was in control,” Hough said. “All the while demanding sex.”
Defense attorney Peter Lombardo argued that the victim was a young girl who had gone into the casual relationship with her eyes open.
“She got into the car voluntarily at CVS and she never got out until she was home,” Lombardo argued.
He said the victim never tried to get out of the car each time it stopped or alert a police officer they passed. Lombardo also argued that Fossett didn’t use a weapon to forcibly keep her in the car.
“When you stay with someone voluntarily, that is not a kidnapping. When you have means of getting away from that person very easily, that is not a kidnapping. Not at all,” Lombardo later added.
The victim had not initially reported what happened out of fear of Fossett’s reaction, a fact the defense questioned.
Fossett and the victim had been dating for about two months when on or about Aug. 22, 2015, they went to Holmes Beach but were asked to leave by Holmes Beach police. The victim was driving and got pulled over, which angered Fossett, and he poured water on her head, according to testimony.
She demanded that Fossett get out of the car, but instead he pummeled her with his fist in the head, neck and face, according to testimony.
The beating left Fossett’s victim with a broken eye socket, broken bone in her neck, black eyes and multiple bruises.
Despite being in and out of consciousness, Fossett allegedly demanded she climb on top of him to have sex while he drove. Because she feared he would beat her again, she did as he asked, according to testimony.
Prosecutors say the victim was then driven around as Forssett told her he had killed two people before and would feed her to the alligators in Myakka. He later drove to unknown location in Manatee County, demanding sex again, prosecutors said.