Four women, at times tightly holding hands, could barely contain their cries of relief as a Sacramento federal judge sentenced a prominent professional climber and guidebook author to life in prison for sexually abusing women and wielding his authority to threaten victims if they came forward.

Charles Barrett, 40, snatched away freedom and ability to pursue happiness — citizens’ birthright as outlined in the Constitution — for the women because his actions will reverberate through each victim’s entire life, said one woman, K.G., on Tuesday in downtown Sacramento.

A federal jury found Barrett guilty Feb. 13 — called “freedom day” by K.G. — of two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact stemming from incidents in 2016. She said she was raped and sexually assaulted while in Yosemite National Park for a weekend of hiking.

“It is time to put a definitive end to Barrett’s reign of terror,” the victim said during her statements in court before sentencing by U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez.

Barrett, when offered the opportunity by Mendez to address the court and his victims, declined to say anything. Bakersfield-based defense attorney David Torres said he plans to appeal the case.

“I believe that the life (sentence) was quite harsh under the circumstances … given the amount of time it took to file the case” and bring charges to court, Torres said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Arin Heinz listed alleged sexual assaults beginning in 2008 and ending in 2016 as the four women in court leaned on one another while crying in the packed gallery.

The Sacramento Bee does not identify victims of sexual assault.

K.G. met Barrett at a local swimming hole where he invited her to watch a meteor shower, according to court filings. He brought her to an isolated area, physically forcing her to the ground while raping and choking her, prosecutors said.

He also sexually assaulted her while swimming together in the Tuolumne River and raped her again in a communal shower facility, court papers said.

Three other women also testified about sexual assaults during the trial. Prosecutors did not bring charges for those alleged incidents because they occurred outside the U.S. Attorney’s Office jurisdiction, prosecutors said.

“This defendant used his renown and physical presence as a rock climber to lure and intimidate victims who were part of the rock-climbing community,” U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said in a statement after his conviction. “His violent sexual assaults were devastating to the victims, whom he later threatened in the lead-up to trial.”

Barrett was also convicted in 2017 for issuing threats against a woman he allegedly assaulted, prosecutors said.

Hennessy, the defense lawyer, told the judge a life sentence was not appropriate because Barrett suffers from a mental health illness. There’s more to Barrett than what was described in the courtroom, he said.

Barrett’s family and friends sent the judge statements describing a kind man who never made anyone feel unsafe.

But from the bench, Mendez noted the defendant hadn’t displayed any remorse or respect for the criminal conduct. In jailhouse phone calls, Barrett described himself as the victim, called K.G. a liar and said the National Park Service engaged in a conspiracy to trap him.

“We are grateful for the tireless work of the National Park Service investigative team and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring this case to justice,” said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon in a statement. “Today’s sentencing sends a clear message about the consequences of this criminal behavior. It makes Yosemite a safer place for the climbing community, park visitors and our employees.”

Heinz wiped tears from her face as the crying victims hugged each other after the sentencing. One victim’s bawling tears reverberated through the entire court hallway.

“There is no recovering what Charlie (Barrett) did to me,” K.G. said.