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Rapist apologizes, says he'll change

"Oh, Lord! What I wouldn't give for a second chance!"

That is the concluding line of serial rapist Jason Higgins' poem, "Second Chance." But the only chance his victims want him to have is to spend the rest of his life in prison.Higgins was sentenced to two consecutive 15-year minimum prison terms Monday after pleading guilty to a series of attacks on lone women in the Ogden area in 1996 and early 1997.

There were eight separate attacks in which women were raped or sodomized. Most victims are teenage girls. Two are women in their 50s. One 14-year-old was raped twice in separate attacks a month apart.

Higgins, 24, was charged with 21 felonies in the attacks and pleaded guilty in a plea agreement to six first-degree felonies and three second-degree felonies. As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution and defense attorney John Caine agreed to recommend two consecutive prison terms, the rest to run concurrently.

Several victims told 2nd District Judge Parley Baldwin how their lives have been shattered by Higgins' attacks.

They told of recurring nightmares, fears of walking alone and the stigma of being a rape victim. One girl refuses to go to school because of the teasing from classmates, fostering a truancy charge that has landed her in juvenile court, she said.

One victim described how she was walking home from a school pep rally when she was attacked. "We will all live in pain for the rest of our lives. Me, my family, the other victims," she said. "I hope he goes to prison until the day he dies."

Higgins, a construction worker, apologized to the victims and their families, saying he doesn't understand why he attacked the women and will seek counseling in prison "to isolate this deviation and prevent it from ever happening again.

"I am not a person who lacks compassion or remorse, one who is unrepentant and cold-hearted," Higgins said, reading from a prepared statement. "All I can say is that these actions in no way reflect the true person that I am."

Caine called Higgins a "compelling individual, forthright and honest, very introspective" and read the "Second Chance" poem in court.

Higgins grew up lacking a father figure, Caine said, was emotionally and physically abused by his grandfather, and sexually molested as a boy by a neighbor.

Weber County Attorney Mark DeCaria said Higgins' attacks were crimes of repeated violence that brutalized his victims and terrorized women all across northern Utah.

People changed their lifestyles, where they walked and when they jogged, because of the string of rapes, DeCaria said.

Baldwin agreed, saying the women were "brutally attacked. Their lives will never be the same. The depth of their agony will only ever be known to them."

"Your acts were that of a monster, rising from a black hole," Baldwin told Higgins. "They were cowardly acts, brutal violations perpetrated on the victims."