Lawrence West Jr. will spend 11-25 years in prison for a crime he says he did not commit.
Ohio County Circuit Judge David Sims sentenced West on Friday after accepting an Alford Plea from West. West contends he did not sexually assault or abuse a 15-year old boy. He entered the plea in the interest of serving less time in prison. He had initially been charged with 11 counts of sex crimes against a minor. A conviction on those counts could have resulted in hundreds of years in prison.
Friday's plea is a result of discussions between Assistant Ohio County Prosecutor Shawn Turak and defense attorney Mark Panepinto.
Photo by Fred Connors
Lawrence West Jr. will spend 11-25 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
In addition to the prison term, Sims sentenced West to 50 years of supervised probation after he is released from jail.
In March, 2005, West was convicted in U.S. District Court of attempted Internet enticement of a minor. He was released from prison in December 2008 and placed on probation.
As a condition of probation, West was required to submit to polygraph examinations. During a July 2012 exam, he admitted to having a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old boy about six months earlier. His probation was subsequently revoked the next month, and he was returned to federal prison in Kentucky until July 17 of this year.
In the interim, West Virginia State Police launched an investigation into West's admission. During an interview with sexual assault counselors at Harmony House in Wheeling, the boy alleged West had sexual contact with him on 12 occasions.
One of those crimes reportedly occurred after the boy missed the bus and West drove him to school. Court documents show that while in West's car, the convicted sex offender allegedly told the boy, "You know what I want." West then allegedly forced the boy to perform a sex act on him and he also performed a sex act on the juvenile.
West Virginia State Police filed a detainer to keep West incarcerated in Kentucky until he could be extradited to West Virginia. Sgt. Scott Adams and another state police trooper made the six-hour drive to the federal correctional institution in Manchester, Ky., and returned West to the Northern Panhandle.
Adams said that during the ride back to West Virginia, West admitted to new sex crimes against the child.
The 2005 conviction was a result of West's online communication with an Ohio County sheriff's deputy, whom he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. West was arrested after he showed up outside a restaurant in Elm Grove for what he thought was going to be a meeting with the girl.