A man described by a DuPage County judge as "every woman's nightmare" was sentenced Tuesday to a maximum 60 years in prison for raping a Bensenville woman nearly 17 years ago.
Kurt Serzen, 55, was convicted of the August 1996 attack in 2011 after authorities matched his DNA profile to saliva taken off the victim's body. Judge Robert Kleeman noted it was just one of a "laundry list of crimes" Serzen committed against women.
"Mr. Serzen is every woman's nightmare," he said.
Authorities said Serzen entered the victim's home through a sliding-glass door and assaulted her after holding a knife to her throat and a pillow over her head.
The case went unsolved until he was found guilty of sneaking into a Woodridge home and molesting a 16-year-old baby sitter in 1999. After that, his DNA profile went into a police database and, in 2003, linked him to the Bensenville case.
Serzen told the judge Tuesday he "accepted the fact I was found guilty" and said he was "remorseful for what happened to this person" but stopped short of taking responsibility. He dabbed at his nose and sniffled as he told Kleeman he hoped he wouldn't be sentenced "for what will turn out to be the rest of my life."
Outside of court, the victim said she was relieved to put the case behind her after nearly two decades. She said she testified against Serzen and remained persistent in the case because "it's our job as women and as human beings" to protect others.
"I'm not a vindictive person," she said. "I did it so he couldn't hurt anybody else. I just want to keep other people safe, and I hope other people will do the same."
Assistant State's Attorney Mike Pawl said Serzen has a "horrific and disgusting" criminal background, including numerous cases in which he battered, stalked, exposed himself or made obscene phone calls to women.
In the early 1990s, he was acquitted at three separate trials of sexual assaults in Hillsborough County, Fla., where he was a night security guard at a hospital and suspected of being a serial rapist.
"He has no remorse. He has no empathy," Pawl said, crediting the Bensenville victim for her persistence. "She did it for all those other women."
Serzen, formerly of Addison, Elgin and Hanover Park, must serve at least 30 years before he is eligible for parole, authorities said.