Saturday, August 29, 2009

Utah teen sentenced to 3 to life for rape attempt on elderly woman

A Utah teen who raped a 71 year old woman, stopping only after the victim yelled the names Jesus, Mary and Joseph at him , was sentenced to 3 years to life in prison Friday. The 71-year-old West Valley City was attacked last New Years' Day around 3 AM by 19-year-old Zachary Michael Potts, who plead guilty to first-degree felony attempted aggravated sexual assault in June.

Potts came into the victim, his neighbor's home and started choking her. He took off her pajama bottoms and began to fondle her, but she had the presence of mind to shout "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!" as part of a "death prayer." "Because of what you said, I can't do it," Potts said to the victim, and he called off the attack.

His attorney, Michael Misner, states that Potts will need alcohol addiction treatment while he's in prison, and that he only remembered flashbacks of the near rape because he was drunk during the incident.

The victim told Christiansen she is disappointed in prosecutors, who offered Potts a plea bargain. Potts was originally charged with first-degree felony aggravated sexual assault and second-degree felony burglary, which could have landed Potts a longer minimum sentence than the three years he received.

The burglary charge was dismissed and the aggravated sexual assault charge was changed to attempted aggravated sexual assault, but remained a first-degree felony.

The victim, who taught English at a Magna school for 15 years, said the assault took place just a few months after her husband died from throat cancer. Potts, who lived next door with his family, was one of few people who knew the victim lived alone, she said.

Nevertheless, Potts apologized, stating that "I would like to say how horrible I feel about what happened. It eats away at me every day." The woman stated that despite the fear that Potts will come back and try to kill her, "I have forgiven him and I hope he and his family will recover from whatever sickness holds this man," she said.

The sentencing judge was Judge Michele Christiansen of Utah's 3rd district.

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