AZTEC — A Farmington man was sentenced to four years in prison for raping a blind woman with cerebral palsy.
Arlen West, 49, was facing up to six years in prison during his sentencing hearing on Thursday morning in front of District Judge William Birdsall. He was convicted of criminal sexual penetration and intimidation of a witness after a jury trial in May.
His prison sentence will be followed by five to 20 years of probation or parole, and he will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
"An overall lack of responsibility and denial of any wrongdoing on the defendant's part are a combined basis for asking that both counts be served consecutively," said David Cowen, San Juan County assistant district attorney, while asking for a full six-year prison sentence.
The attack happened April 3, 2012. West delivered a television to the victim, and, after placing it in her bedroom, he pinned the woman to her bed and assaulted her, according to the affidavit for his arrest. The victim's 3-year-old daughter was in the next room.
"I considered Arlen West a close friend when I let him into my home," the woman said at the sentencing hearing. "I trusted Arlen so much that if he hadn't done this to me, I would have believed him innocent and probably would have been sitting on his side supporting him."
She said that after the assault her family had to move to a different residence to get distance from the rape.
"I lived in fear," she said. "I isolated myself from the world. I no longer trusted anyone, and I wouldn't open the door for anyone."
West had never been convicted of a prior crime. Several relatives and a local pastor spoke on his behalf and asked the judge for leniency.
West thanked his family members for coming to the hearing and speaking for him, but he didn't speak to the judge during the hearing. His attorney asked for him to be sentenced to probation and court-ordered therapy.
"Treatment is a better safeguard than sending him to prison and hoping something good happens there," said West's attorney, Stephen Taylor, in court. "There is a very good potential for a positive outcome here through a therapeutic setting."
Birdsall said although treatment would be beneficial, a prison sentence was needed for punishment.
"In any of these cases, there's an element of wanting to do what could be done to prevent any other similar acts by the defendant in the future," he said. "On the other hand ... (the victim) has got a little bit coming, and so does society, in the way of just pure punishment for what Mr. West did. That's part of what judges do."