90 Day Fiance is usually a great source of joyful entertainment for its millions of fans, and current star Ashley Martson has been no exception as she and her Jamaican boyfriend Jay have had some of the most head-shake-inducing scenes of the new season. But, Ashley being thrust into the spotlight has resulted in a very dark chapter of her life surfacing online as she confirms that she was the victim of a heinous kidnapping and rape in 2005 that she very narrowly escaped from with her life.
“As most of you know an old friend decided to send the tabloids a very personal story about me,” Ashley captioned a screen cap of a 2009 York Dispatch article about her rapist’s conviction.
After Ashley was made aware that her “old friend” was pitching the story to tabloids, she contacted 90 Day Fiance social media mogul and vlogger John Yates so that he could be the one to break the story. “I reached out to @johnyates327 who was also sent the story and asked him to leak it first because I wasn’t sure how the other tabloids would portray me,” Ashley reveals. “I knew he would post it with the with dignity and respect with the understanding that this is a very sensitive subject.”
She adds: “People are disgusting. Sending this story to tabloids shows how sh*tty people really are. Everyone take it easy on @johnyates327 he has my permission #90dayfiance #tlc #metoo”
As far as the details of the incident, they really are horrifying. Ashley worked at the former Hardware Bar in York City, Pennsylvania and was walking to work at roughly 5:30PM on October 7, 2005 when 35-year-old Sean Patrick Gallagher attempted to rob her by putting the blade of a box cutter against her throat.
Ashley told her attacker that she had no money, at which point he forced her into the passenger seat of her car and bound her hands with zip ties. He then drove around for a while before eventually parking at Small Athletic Field. Once parked, he raped and terrorized Ashley, including threatening to kill her, before she managed to escape after hitting him with her bag.
“He bound her hands with zip ties so tight, her hands turned blue,” prosecutor Jennifer Russell said. “She was terrified he was going to kill her.” Police stated that Sean Gallagher told Ashley she could leave, but later changed his mind and told her: “Nah, I would rather kill you. I don’t want to go to jail.”
It was just after the death threat that Ashley managed to get away, but it took a heroic effort on her part. In addition to chewing through the zip ties that bound her, Ashley slid down an embankment before police say she she swam or waded across the creek and got away.
Unfortunately, there were two separate arrests before police were able to apprehend the right man — who was already be in custody at the time.
From The York Dispatch:
Just hours after the incident, police arrested a man who fit the description of the rapist. He spent 4½ months in county prison before DNA testing exonerated him.
Police arrested a second man in September 2006 after the victim spotted him at the York Fair and told officers he was the man who raped her. That man spent about a month in prison before he, too, was exonerated through DNA testing.
The same DNA evidence that exonerated the first two suspects was what led police to the actual rapist three years after the initial incident. Sean Patrick Gallagher, who was in prison serving 8-20 years after pleading guilty to a Philadelphia robbery in 2007, had submitted his DNA to the national database, and it came back as a match to that of Ashley’s rapist. Court records indicate that the robbery incident (listed as theft by taking) was committed less than a month after Ashley’s kidnapping and rape. I do not know if it was a similar mugging situation.
The jury deliberated for less than 90 minutes before convicting Sean Gallagher of kidnapping, rape, robbery, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and making terroristic threats.
“How dare you make me come here and tell everyone what you did to me,” Ashley said in court during Sean Gallagher’s sentencing. “You are a sick person. … I hope bad things come to you in jail, and I hope you rot in hell.” Ashley also told the judge: “He terrorized me and violated me and tried to take my life,” and added that the attack caused huge setbacks in her life. She asked the judge to keep that in mind when handing down the sentence.
According to court records, Sean Patrick Gallagher wasn’t sentenced until more than two months after the trial, and his sentencing was appealed. The appeal looks to have been heard by the Superior Court but denied. A Petition for Allowance of Appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was denied in June of 2011.
I could find no specific sentencing results, but here is a list of Sean Gallagher’s sentencing guidelines by charge from the actual court documents, all of which were to be served after his sentence for robbery:
Rape: 7-15 years
Kidnapping: 5-10 years
Robbery: 5-10 years
Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse: 7-15 years
Terroristic Threats: “No Further Penalty” (according to the court documents)
If you recall from the 90 Day Fiance Season 6 premiere, when we first met Ashley, she said that spent a lot of her free time taking self defense classes. Now we know a major reason why.
It’s unclear if this incident will be brought up this season, but either way I would like to commend Ashley on the way that she handled the announcement. I’ve enjoyed her and Jay’s story so far, and I look forward to continuing to follow along every Sunday night. I was already pulling for them, but now even more so! Come on Happily Ever After!!