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Sex offender sentenced after attempted rape, assault at Seattle park

SEATTLE – Three years – that’s how long a sex offender was sentenced Friday afternoon after his role a brazen attempted rape at Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park last year.

But his victim, Kelly Herron, says even though she fought off her attacker, she still feels the effects one year later.

“I have nightmares every single night and I often wake up screaming,” Herron said to the judge on Friday during the victim’s impact statement.

The attack happened in early March last year. Police say Gary Steiner laid in wait for his victim but Herron wasn’t going quietly.

Herron said she suffers from PTSD and still has trouble doing things she used to, like jogging through the park.

Nearly one year later she again was face-to-face with her attacker. On Friday, Herron laid out exactly how he has forever changed her life.

“I survived this vicious assault because I fought back with every fiber of my being,” she said.

Herron is a survivor – but still remembers the attack like it happened yesterday.

“This moment is burned into my mind and I have flashbacks on a daily basis,” she said. “I fought for my life as I was slammed into the ground, repeatedly punched in the face and saw my life flash before my eyes.”

It was early March 2017 and Kelly was jogging on a sunny afternoon. But she ended up coming face-to-face with Steiner inside a public bathroom. Steiner later admitted to police that he tried to rape her.

“Our encounter ended with me locking Mr. Stiener in that concrete room with a sink and a toilet and today I’m here to ask you to do the same thing,” Herron told the judge.

Steiner broke down sobbing in court and also begged the judge to sentence him to the maximum. But his tears weren’t enough to convince Herron he felt sorry.

“When it comes to repeat sex offenders who have done this time and time again, and have been given opportunities to get back out. And when they get back out,  they keep doing this, it’s very hard to feel sorry somebody if they’re up there crying,” Herron added.

Herron turned her terrifying experience into something she hopes could empower other women. She talked to a roomful of women learning self-defense techniques she says likely saved herself from becoming a victim last year.

Even though she still struggles with the attack, she said, she hopes other women find inspiration in her victory – and live their lives without fear.

“I ran my marathon with my mom, which was awesome, and I’ve really just tried to encourage women that no matter what you’re afraid of in life to not let it stop you from moving forward,” she said.

Kelly said she has returned to work and has started a new podcast to help inspire other women to run and learn how to fight back.

Steiner  was sentenced to three years in prison but it will be up to a state review board at the end of those 36 months to determine if he’s fit for parole.