Lexington woman waits nearly 40 years for justice in rape case

Sherry Wand talks with WKYT after a man was convicted of raping her more than 38 years after...
Sherry Wand talks with WKYT after a man was convicted of raping her more than 38 years after the crime happened. (WKYT)(WKYT)
Published: Oct. 7, 2019 at 6:49 PM EDT
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A Lexington woman finally has justice after she was raped in 1981.

Sherry Wand was 18 in 1981 when authorities say she was raped by Donald Berlin. Berlin was convicted 38 years later thanks to the increased efforts to test backlogged rape kits.

A 2015 audit revealed Kentucky had more than 3,000 untested kits, and Wand's case is the first conviction since Kentucky started looking into the backlog.

Wand still vividly remembers what happened on the night Berlin attacked her. Her fiancé was on a business trip.

"I was asleep on the couch, and he broke in through the bathroom window, and I heard something," Wand said. "I called my fiancé's name thinking, 'Are you back? What happened?'"

It wasn't her fiancé. Wand said Berlin was wearing a hat and bandana so she never saw his face. she tried to escape, but Berlin hit her and told her not to fight. After he raped her, Berlin bragged about robbing a convenience store before leaving. That's when Wand left to get help.

"I got in my car and went straight to Central Baptist, Baptist Health now, and walked into the emergency room, and I told them I've been raped," Wand said.

She had a rape exam, and decades would pass. She thought she would never have justice served. Then, in 2017, a Lexington police detective called her.

"He said, 'Are you Sherry Wand?' and I said, 'Yes.' He says 'Were you at one time Sherry Dennis?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'Are you the same Sherry Dennis that filed a police report for an attack in September of 1981?' And at that my guts fell into the floor," Wand said.

The masked man now had a name. Berlin had been in prison since 1982 for bank robbery and his last attempted rape. He was sentenced 38 years and one day after the attack.

"I guess some women would be angry that he wasn't foun,d and that they didn't have their day in court sooner, and I do believe everything happens for a reason," Wand said. "My thoughts on this is he would have gotten out in 2027, and he's not getting out now. He's not getting out."

Berlin was sentenced 20 more years, and that will be served consecutively with his prior sentence.