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Pa. man pleads no contest in sex assault of wife

January 23, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Fayetteville, Pa., man charged with sexually assaulting his wife pleaded no contest Wednesday in Franklin County Court to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

The 65-year-old man, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim, was scheduled for sentencing in May, after undergoing a sexual offender's assessment.

"I'll allow this to go forward. I'm not putting my stamp of approval on it yet," Judge Carol Van Horn said of the plea agreement.

The judge expressed concerns about the proposed sentence of 11 1/2 to 23 months of house arrest with electronic monitoring, sexual offender treatment and 10 years on probation.

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"This is based strictly on the victim's wishes," Assistant District Attorney Lauren Sulcove said of the now estranged wife. The woman was willing to testify against her husband, "but I don't know if she can make it through a trial" because of her emotional trauma, Sulcove said.

The assault occurred Sept. 15 at the couple's South Mountain Road home where the man forced his wife into a van, made her perform a sexual act and threatened to choke her to death, according to court records.

The case was brought before Van Horn as a no-contest plea, in part because of the man's hearing impairment, which defense attorney Deborah Hoff said made it difficult for him to make statements in answer to questions. The man's daughter was present to communicate with him through a combination of lip reading and written notes.

The judge sought a guilty plea.

"I'll plead guilty, but I didn't do what she said I did," the man said.

Van Horn was unwilling to take a guilty plea from someone professing not to have committed the crime and, after a recess, the no-contest plea was accepted.

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