Following emotional testimony from one of his victims, the man dubbed the 'Wooded Rapist' was given 10-year sentence Wednesday morning for his October conviction for an attempted aggravated rape that occurred in 1994.
Police believe Robert Jason Burdick was behind a decade-long career of serial sexual assaults across the midstate.
Judge Seth Norman gave Burdick the sentence with a requirement that he serve 30 percent; he already faces a minimum of 32 years following his April conviction for aggravated rape. The sentences will be served consecutively.
Before Norman’s decision, the prosecution called Burdick’s victim, Pat Young, to the stand. Fighting back tears, Young spoke about the emotional fallout she’s gone through since the night in February 1994 when Burdick, whom she referred to as "that," attacked her while she slept.
“What happened was between the time I went to bed and I woke up, was that,” she said, gesturing to Burdick, who kept his head down during most of the hearing.
Defense attorneys called no witnesses to plead the court for a lesser sentence, but did argue the statute was unclear as to whether Burdick’s other convictions constituted an “enhancement factor” that would make Burdick subject to harsher sentencing.
But Norman disagreed with the defense’s reading of the law.
“I think the statute is pretty clear when it says the defendant has a previous history of criminal behavior or criminal convictions,” he said. “I don’t know how in the world I can construe that in any other fashion.”
Following the sentencing, Young told reporters she has been “amazed” by the public’s support as she’s stepped forward to confront her attacker. Since Burdick’s arrest, Young has spoken openly about her attack, testified in court, and been a support presence for other victims. She said she hopes other rape victims who are afraid to report their crimes will follow her lead.
“For me the best way to get past it was to confront it, come to court, put a face on [Burdick], and demystify it,” she said. “The community has been really great and this has increased awareness. I hope it continues.”
Burdick is suspected of as many as 13 crimes in Davidson, Wilson and Williamson counties. He is next scheduled to go on trial in Davidson County on March 22 for charges of especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape.