Dominic Lawton was a 30-year-old Georgia State University student when he was charged with assaulting multiple women.
Photo: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office
Photo: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office

Former GSU student sentenced to life for raping 3 women in parks

A serial rapist who attended Georgia State University will spend the rest of his life in prison, officials announced Monday.

Dominic Lawton, 33, sexually assaulted at least three women in DeKalb County in 2016, District Attorney Sherry Boston’s office said in a statement Monday. A jury convicted the Ocilla man of several charges including rape, kidnapping and aggravated sodomy, the statement said.

In each case, the victims said Lawton met them, forced them into his red pickup truck and made them perform sexual acts on him. At the time of the attacks, Lawton attended GSU at its Atlanta campus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2016.

The assaults happened before more recent cases where several people were found dead in DeKalb parks. The county announced earlier this year it had hired four new rangers to patrol parks following residents’ concerns.

DeKalb police first began investigating after an 18-year-old reported she had been raped Sept. 14, 2016. She said she met Lawton at a motel after she posted on Backpage.com, a site frequently used by prostitutes.


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“When he arrived at the motel, (he) ordered the victim into his truck after flashing a gun,” Boston’s office said. He took the young woman to Exchange Park on Columbia Drive and raped her.

Lawton then drove her back to the motel and she reported the crime to police.

Less than a month later, on Oct. 9, a 21-year-old woman said she met Lawton after posting a Backpage.com ad. He picked her up in downtown Decatur and said he needed to stop at an ATM. Instead, prosecutors said, he took her to Mason Mill Park and, holding her at gunpoint, made her undress and perform sexual acts.

Again, he returned the victim to where he picked her up.

Lawton was arrested Oct. 12 after he was essentially caught in the act in Exchange Park, Boston’s office said. Police officers spotted his pickup truck and saw him “scrambling to put his shirt on and then attempting to drive away,” the statement said.

Dominic Lawton, a former Georgia State University student, appears in court in 2016 on charges of raping women at public parks.
Photo: JOSHUA SHARPE/JOSHUA.SHARPE@AJC.COM

“A 17-year-old, partially dressed victim, exited (Lawton’s) truck and ran towards the patrol car and reported being sexually assaulted,” the statement said.

She later told investigators that she met the suspect at the mall and later met up with him to go on a date to the movies. Instead, he drove her to the park and forced her to have sex with him.

After Lawton was arrested, he was linked to two other sexual assaults, one of which occurred in June 2016, officials said. The victim in that case has since died.

His DNA was also a match for a rape kit in Tift County. That cold case is pending prosecution.

A DeKalb County judge sentenced Lawton Friday to three consecutive life sentences, plus 10 years in prison.

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In other news:

The boy has been reunited with his mother

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