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Man who assaulted woman dodges prison thanks to paying child support

LOCKPORT – A Hartland man who rammed his girlfriend’s head through a wall is “pretty scummy,” State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. said Friday, but he was spared a trip to state prison.

Kloch made his decision in the case of Justin P. West, 32, of Chapman Road, based on the fact that West is paying child support to another woman who had a child by him, and also because he has a roofing job that will enable him to obtain health insurance covering that child.

“The fact you’re employed and providing support is the only reason you’re not going to state prison,” Kloch told West. He could have sent West away for seven years on his guilty plea to second-degree assault, but instead gave him six months of weekends in jail, five years’ probation, and fines and fees totaling $5,375.

West entered his plea April 2, after facing a 12-count indictment accusing him of beating and raping the victim during a period of several days last October.

Assistant Public Defender Michele G. Bergevin said West’s relationship with the woman he impregnated didn’t involve any violence, but the subsequent one featured excessive drinking on both sides. Bergevin said West and the victim both have stopped drinking.

“I tried, I really tried, before it got to this. That was a really bad night,” the tearful West said. “I’m sorry I shoved her.”

The victim didn’t come to court, but her mother did and told Kloch, “My daughter also has a daughter that we’re raising because she is emotionally unable to do so.” She said that girl is not West’s child, and the victim is not receiving any child support.

Kloch said West must wear a bracelet on each ankle for at least a year – one to detect alcohol consumption and the other to monitor his movements, since he is under a curfew except for work. West also was barred from contacting the victim for eight years.

The victim’s stepfather stormed out after hearing what Kloch intended to do, which was based in part on a presentencing recommendation from a probation officer.

Kloch told West that if he violates any condition of probation, he will be sentenced to the seven-year maximum. He said the probation officer’s thinking was that incarcerating West and thus cutting off the child support would victimize “another innocent person.”

The judge said the sentencing “doesn’t require a knee-jerk reaction. It requires some thinking.”