Accused sex offender sentenced to 2 years

Defendant's attorney says assault was not sexual in nature

Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2001

An accused sex offender was ordered to serve about two years of prison time Monday, although he maintained he did not commit a sexual assault.

Vincente Solorzano, 33, pleaded guilty in July to a felony charge of attempted second-degree sexual assault, which refers to attempted sexual contact without consent.

He originally was indicted by a grand jury on charges of felony first-degree sexual assault as well as assault and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors, for which he could have received a maximum of 30 years in jail.

Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks sentenced Solorzano to four years in prison on the sex charge with two years suspended.

Solorzano was sentenced to another year for violating probation, plus an additional 235 days for a previous drunken-driving conviction in Ketchikan. With credit for time served and time off for good behavior, he is expected to spend about two years in prison, his attorney said.

He also was placed on three years probation. Since Solorzano is a Mexican citizen, he also may face deportation.

Defense attorney Louis Menendez wouldn't comment on the sentence or whether Solorzano would appeal.

"We do the lawyering, the judge does the sentencing and I respect Judge Weeks," he said. "But my client and I are both happy this is over so he can get on with his life."

Assistant District Attorney David Brower said he felt the sentence was fair.

At Monday's sentencing hearing, Brower said Solorzano went into the woman's apartment on the morning of Feb. 5 and threw her cousin out of the apartment after accusing him of having sexual relations with the woman. Solorzano physically assaulted the woman, Brower said. The prosecutor said Solorzano then broke into a bathroom where she went to hide, ripped off her shorts and attempted to sexually assault her with his fingers.

Brower entered into evidence DNA test results from a spot of blood on Solorzano's hand that proved to be the woman's.

Menendez said Solorzano never had been accused of beating or sexually abusing anybody, so a sexual assault did not fit his character. He also said the victim had visited Solorzano in prison several times since the incident.

Menendez said the woman called Solorzano to come over the morning of the incident. He said her cousin left the house on his own and an argument erupted between Solorzano and the woman. She proceeded to hit Solorzano, Menendez said, and a shoving match ensued. Menendez said Solorzano was guilty of assault, but not sexual assault.

"He did punch her in the vagina," Menendez said. "But to say he penetrated her makes no sense."

Solorzano, speaking through a translator, said he and the woman fought but he would not admit to sexual contact. He said the blood found on his finger was on a towel he picked up in the bathroom to blot a scratch she gave him.

Judge Weeks said though he believed this was a sexual attack, he did not believe Solorzano was a "beast or a sexual predator."

"(An assault) is a way of one person exercising power over someone else and the two (sexual and physical assault) are very related," Weeks said. "Mr. Solorzano is not a bad man. Even the victim doesn't believe he is the kind of person she would want to end a relationship with. And had he not been drinking this most likely wouldn't have happened. But that doesn't mean it's not a crime."

Solorzano said he was very embarrassed and "sincerely sorry" the incident happened.

Menendez said his client likely will face deportation charges at a later date.

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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