Clay Conaway was sentenced to five years prison Nov. 22 in connection with the fourth-degree rape of a Millsboro woman in 2018.
Sussex County Superior Court Judge Richard F. Stokes sentenced Conaway to 15 years, the maximum for the charge, but suspended the maximum to five years, less 63 days that Conaway has already served in Sussex Correctional Institution where he was committed immediately after the jury found him guilty.
Conaway, dressed in prison white and shackled, was led into the courtroom and heard an impact statement from his accuser, a 21-year-old Millsboro woman.
“It was the most emotionally draining time,” the woman said about the rape and trial that followed. “I felt worthless, disrespected ... not a human being.”
The woman said she and her family were unprepared for the trial and the publicity that accompanied it. “I felt victimized all over again by the defense. I have been traumatized by the trial and publicity,” she said.
Conaway did not speak during the sentencing. His attorney Natalie Woloshin asked Judge Stokes for no prison time because Conaway has shown remorse, she said. She read several letters he has written since in prison, saying the time without a cellphone and alone in his prison cell has given him time to reflect on what he’s done. In one letter Conaway wrote, she read, “I’ve become a much better person through all this ... I got caught up too much in the party lifestyle.”
A jury found Conaway guilty of fourth-degree rape in September following a 10-day trial. He was indicted on charges of first-degree rape by a grand jury in August 2018, but the trial jury did not find him guilty on that charge. According to the woman’s testimony, Conaway forced her to have sexual intercourse, causing her hip pain, and two days after the rape, she said, she went to a doctor who prescribed her over-the-counter ibuprofen. During her impact statement read in court, the woman repeated her experience of going to Conaway’s Georgetown home where he forced her to have sex when she didn’t want to.
Conaway faces five more trials of women who say he raped or tried to rape them. The second trial was scheduled to begin Monday, Dec. 2, in Sussex County Superior Court, but was moved to Feb. 10, according to a press release sent Nov. 25.
Conaway’s defense attorney Joe Hurley said the earliest Conaway could be released is in three years. Conaway faces home confinement and probation once he is released from prison. Hurley would not say how the sentencing will affect Conaway’s remaining trials, and he would not talk about the remaining cases. Conaway is now a convicted sex offender and the mitigating factor of a first-time offense will no longer apply in future sentencing, if he is found guilty.