Appeals court upholds sentences for Smoky Mountain rapists

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From left to right: Richard Graham, Dusty Oliver. (Photos via KCSO and BCSO)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Judges in the 6th U.S. District Court of Appeals affirmed the sentences of two men who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting men in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Attorneys for Dusty Oliver and Richard Graham argued in federal court that the sentences of 25 years for Graham and 19 years for Oliver were unreasonable.

Their appeals argued that the court was wrong to upgrade the sentences beyond the usual sentences for sexual abuse. Attorneys also said a history of childhood sexual abuse and mental health issues were not taken into consideration.

Prosecutors said the pair preyed on two homeless, drug-addicted men. Graham and Oliver picked them up in Knoxville and took them to the national park to be raped in June 2012 and November 2015.

The federal appeals court judges ultimately sided with the prosecution. Both sentences will be followed by a 15-year period of supervised release and both men will have to register as sex offenders.

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