Former Atlanta police officer sentenced for raping Cherokee County woman

Lionel Dely (Cherokee County Sheriff's Office)

A former Atlanta police officer was sentenced to nearly 50 years in prison and will be on probation for the rest of his life after being found guilty of rape.

Lionel Joseph Dely, 33, of Marietta, was sentenced late last month after being found guilty of rape and violation of oath by a public officer a month prior.

Prosecutors say the rape was reported in February by a woman living in the Acworth area of Cherokee County. The woman told investigators Dely was a client of her home massage business. During an appointment, investigators say Dely showed his law enforcement badge, told her he was an Atlanta police officer conducting an investigation, and then sexually assaulted her.

Prosecutors say the woman did not initially report the incident because she feared repercussions. A friend eventually convinced her to call 911 and Dely was arrested on Feb. 11.

Investigators were able to find three other victims outside Cherokee County. The victims were permitted to testify during the trial.

 "The defendant’s conduct, in this case, was predatory, calculated, and deliberate. He used his law enforcement badge, a symbol of protection and safety, to exploit and violate multiple women undetected," said Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Katie Gropper, Special Victims Unit, Office of the District Attorney. "This serial rapist believed he was above the law and was only stopped when one courageous Cherokee County woman came forward."

During his sentencing, Superior Court Judge Tony Baker told Dely he had "a very cold heart" and "treated these women as if they were nothing."

"Your badge is supposed to be used to serve and protect," said Judge Baker, "but you used it to abuse and prey on these women."

Dely was sentenced to 45 years, plus life on probation and must register as a sexual offender. He was also ordered to pay $1,100 in restitution and cannot have contact with any of the victims.