WINCHESTER — Forty-four years after he first raped his daughter, Venkata Rao Yeleti is being punished for his crimes.
In a plea bargain on Friday in Winchester Circuit Court, Yeleti pleaded guilty to two counts of rape of a child under 13. He was sentenced to 20 years with 18 years suspended, but the sentences will run concurrently, meaning the 77-year-old Yeleti will serve up to one year in jail.
Yeleti is scheduled to report to the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center in Frederick County at 9 am. on Aug. 21. Upon release, he will be on supervised probation for five years and must have no contact with his daughter and his grandchildren.
The rapes occurred between July 1, 1975, and Aug. 30, 1976, in Winchester, when his daughter was 10 and 11 years old. On Sept. 14, the daughter, who now lives in Kansas, contacted Winchester police and provided them with emails and phone recordings in which Yeleti incriminates himself. Yeleti was charged in November in Temple, Texas, where he was living. He was extradited to Winchester in December.
The 40-plus years between the commission of a crime and an arrest is believed to be the longest span in history for a case prosecuted by the Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. The time period was a factor in reaching a plea agreement rather than taking the case to trial, Heather D. Hovermale, deputy commonwealth’s attorney, said on Tuesday.
While she believed the victim was credible and there were incriminating emails and recordings, Hovermale said there was no forensic evidence, increasing the chances of an acquittal. Hovermale said the woman supported the agreement, which included Yelenti reading a written apology to her in court. The Star typically does not name victims of sexual assault.
Attorney Edward B. McMahon Jr. said on Tuesday that the agreement was in his client’s “best interests.”
State sentencing guideline recommendations called for a minimum of four years and two months imprisonment, a midpoint of 10 years and a maximum of 12 years.
Given the victim’s desire to move on with her life and the small potential for recidivism due to Yeleti’s advanced age, Hovermale said she supported Judge Dennis L. Hupp’s decision to sentence below the guidelines. Hovermale said she was pleased to be able to provide justice to the woman, who appeared in court with relatives.
“This past year has been a very difficult year for her going through the system, but I think she feels that justice was served,” Hovermale said. “That’s what’s most important to us, and we hope it sends a message to other people that there are circumstances when these cases can be tried long after the events have occurred.”