YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Dustin Ruiter was stoic Tuesday as the three young women he was convicted in October of raping each told a judge of the damage he inflicted on them.
When it was his turn to speak, however, the 47-year-old Warren man said nothing when he had an opportunity just before Judge Anthony D’Apolito sentenced him to 77 years in prison, at least 60 of which are mandatory.
The sentencing came after a jury convicted Ruiter Oct. 22 of 73 charges that he sexually abused three girls at a home in Youngstown. He was indicted in November of 2019.
All of the victims were under 18 at the time of the crimes.
Prosecutors said Ruiter claimed he was helping the children because they had medical conditions, but they contend he assaulted them instead.
Investigators found Ruiter’s DNA in a sample taken from a rape kit that was performed on one of the victims, prosecutors said.
All three victims spoke in a quiet courtroom, at times pausing to compose themselves, at times barely speaking above a whisper.
The first victim said Ruiter was the person who was supposed to protect them, but ironically, “he was the only person we needed protected from,” she said.
“He was somebody I was supposed to trust and believe in and all he did was hurt me,” the victim said.
The second victim was a little sterner in her remarks, saying that Ruiter used to mock people he would see on the news who were in trouble for harming children.
“What kind of person does that make you? Not real tough when you’re the guy on the news, huh?” she said.
The third victim said she wants to use her experiences to have a career in law enforcement and catch people like Ruiter.
“You tried ruining my life, but you only made me stronger,” she said.
Defense attorney Bradley Olson said while he respects the jury’s verdict, his client still maintains his innocence. There was no word on whether Ruiter would appeal but typically defendants who do not speak at sentencing are planning on appealing and do not say anything because it may impact their appeal.
Judge D’Apolito said although the three underwent a horrific ordeal, he added that their testimony at trial and on Tuesday showed that they are strong people.
“I believe the strength they have in themselves and for each other gives them a good chance to move on with their lives,” Judge D’Apolito said.
Ruiter was sentenced on six rape counts that carry a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison. With those sentences running consecutively, that means Ruiter must serve at least 60 years of his sentence before he is eligible for judicial release.