Cornelius Francis Florman was sentenced to seven years in prison Tuesday by a judge in Lee County, Fla., after pleading guilty to a sexual assault that stemmed from the 1998 abduction and attack on a woman in Fort Myers Beach.
Florman, 53, is the great grandson of the founder of Reynolds Metals who once lived with his prominent family on River Road in Henrico County. In highly-publicized trials, he was sentenced to five years in prison for the 1986 rape of a Chesterfield County woman and tried twice, but not convicted, of the 1986 rape of a Henrico County woman.
The Florida victim told investigators two decades ago that she left a bar early on the morning of June 22, 1998, and met a man she knew as "Cody" in the parking lot. She gave him a lift, but after she began driving, he beat her unconscious and she was sexually assaulted outside her car.
A spokeswoman for the state attorney's office said that at Florman's sentencing hearing Tuesday a victim impact statement was read to the court, which stated in part:
"It's been a long time coming to finally be able to put the events ... behind me. I've been looking over my shoulder ever since the attack, wondering who it was and why this was done to me. Recurrent nightmares and insomnia have plagued me. I really thought I was going to die right then and there. Fast forward to the past couple of years where I find myself having to relive it all again. The stress of bringing this man to justice has been immense, but it is now well worth it. A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders knowing he is going to prison and unable to hurt another woman. I want to thank everyone in the Justice system that has had any part in this case. I've been in a prison of sorts for over 20 years. Closing the jail door on you Mr. Florman is finally setting me free."
His prison term will be followed by eight years of sex offender probation and he was designated a sex offender. Florida offenders must serve at least 85% of their prison terms.
As part of an effort to subject backlogged physical evidence recovery kits in old cases to DNA testing, in 2016 the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in Florida sent evidence recovered from a 1998 sexual assault victim to a DNA lab to test physical evidence kits from old sexual assaults.
The suspect’s DNA profile matched Florman’s, according to a report from the Virginia Department of Forensic Science.
In 2017, Florida requested the Virginia State Police to collect a confirming DNA sample from Florman. He was arrested at his Virginia home in Low Moor and sent to Florida in October 2017, where he remained locked up until last Dec. 2, when he posted a $1 million bond.
Florman was initially charged with kidnapping and sexual battery but reached an agreement with authorities to plead guilty to the reduced charge of sexual assault.
While Florman was not convicted in the 1986 Henrico rape case, the victim successfully sued him in civil court and in 1990 and a jury awarded her $8.5 million. It was believed to be the first time in Virginia that a person acquitted in criminal court of rape was found liable in a civil trial.
He was also charged with a 1986 attempted rape in Kentucky in which he pleaded guilty to lesser charges and was given a suspended sentence.