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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Onstott led violent past, records show
His victim in a 1995 rape said that he choked her and threatened to kill her. He is accused of choking 13-year-old Sarah Lunde to death.
By BRADY DENNIS
Published May 11, 2005
TAMPA - David Onstott raped his former wife repeatedly while they were married and fondled her 16-year-old daughter, according to a transcript of his 1995 rape trial.
Onstott, charged last month with the murder and attempted sexual battery of 13-year-old Sarah Lunde, was convicted in August 1995 of raping a 25-year-old Ruskin woman. During the sentencing phase of that trial, his former wife and stepdaughter testified against him.
Their names are being withheld because the nature of the allegations.
During the hearing, Onstott's former wife said he raped her three times during their short marriage, which began in 1989 and ended in 1991. In one instance, she said, "He beat me in the arms because I cried through the whole thing and didn't like it."
She said testifying against her former husband was difficult, but "it's the right thing to do." She told the judge, "He is a repeat offender and needs to be stopped, and I think he should get the maximum sentence."
When the woman filed for divorce, she claimed that Onstott was "a violent man who physically abused (me) throughout the marriage." She said that he pushed and cursed at her 10-year-old child.
She also alleged that Onstott "expressed sexual attraction" to her teenage daughter, going so far as to enter the girl's bedroom while she was sleeping and once writing her "a love letter."
During the 1995 hearing, the same teenage daughter told the court, "He molested me." The girl said Onstott fondled her on several occasions.
Minutes after hearing the testimony from Onstott's former wife and stepdaughter, a Hillsborough judge sentenced Onstott to nine years in prison, followed by two years of probation. He served about six years of the sentence.
The trial transcript reveals another troubling detail about Onstott, who stands accused of choking Lunde to death and dumping her body in an abandoned fish pond. The victim in the 1995 rape trial testified that he choked her and threatened to kill her.
The woman claimed the choking began after Onstott raped her.
"He said, "You know what I got to do,' " the woman told the court. "He said, "You know, I got to kill you.' And I started begging, "Oh, please don't. I got three kids. I got so much to live for. Don't do this to me.' "
She said she tried to run when Onstott checked to make sure the door was locked, but he caught her in the kitchen and shoved her into a corner.
"(He) kept telling me he had to kill me. He had no choice because I would go to the law," the woman said. "I told him I wouldn't. I told him I wouldn't tell."
She said he waited awhile, then said he'd decided not to kill her. He left through the back door.
The 1995 transcript reveals another chapter in the 36-year-old man's troubled history. His past indiscretions include beating a man with a baseball bat and later being accused of attacking another man with a machete.
He allegedly stalked a former girlfriend in 1995, scaring her so badly that she moved to a different city and got an unlisted phone number. He drank heavily, smoked marijuana and used cocaine.
Records also show he has fathered at least three children by different women and has defaulted on thousands of dollars in child support payments for each one. He racked up DUIs in Michigan and Florida, as well as charges for cocaine possession.
At least three women over the years have filed court documents claiming that he abused them, stalked them or scared them because of his violent past and "unstable" behavior.
A grand jury indicted David Onstott last week on charges of first-degree murder and attempted sexual battery in Lunde's death.
The state attorney has said he likely will seek the death penalty. Meanwhile, Onstott remains in jail without bail.