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Man sentenced to 18 years in Nelson County sex assault case

Man sentenced to 18 years in Nelson County sex assault case

A Covesville man who was found guilty of breaking into a woman’s home and sexually assaulting her received an 18-year active sentence in Nelson Circuit Court on Sept. 4.

A jury in February found Oscar James Vest, 66, guilty on charges of aggravated sexual battery, object sexual penetration and breaking and entering in an incident that occurred roughly three years earlier at a Lovingston apartment complex.

The jury recommended Vest, who maintained his innocence in the daylong trial, be sentenced to 18 years on the combined charges: 10 years for object sexual penetration, five for aggravated sexual battery and three for breaking and entering. An abduction charge against Vest was dismissed prior to the verdict.

Nelson Circuit Court Judge Frederick Watson upheld the jury’s recommended sentence Friday and Vest will receive credit for time served.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Erik Laub asked the court to impose the recommended sentence, noting it already was “well below the low end of the [sentencing guidelines].” He added this was the sentence jurors wanted in this case.

Vest’s defense attorney, Scott De Bruin, had advocated for less time, stating at Vest’s age an 18-year sentence was essentially a life sentence.

As part of his sentence, Vest is required to undergo sex offender treatment and must register as a sex offender. Laub said Vest will have three years of supervised probation and will be allowed contact with children so long as it is pre-approved or supervised by probation if they deem it necessary.

During the February trial, the prosecution said Vest knocked on the victim’s door, forced his way into the victim’s apartment, pushed her against a wall and sexually assaulted her. Afterward, prosecutors said Vest demanded the victim make him lunch.

The victim suffered from health issues. She testified she never had met Vest and he had slapped her during the incident.

Robert New, a former Nelson County Sheriff’s Office captain testified in an interview which occurred shortly after the assault, the victim appeared frail, disoriented and unable to speak clearly.

De Bruin had said during the trial the defense did not deny a sexual encounter occurred, but that it was consensual. He argued the victim had initiated the encounter with Vest, whose DNA was linked to the victim.

Vest previously testified he was visiting family at the apartment complex when the victim had invited him into her home where she initiated sexual contact.

Since his June 2017 arrest, Vest has been incarcerated in Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. His sentence Friday comes after three previous mistrials: one resulting from a deadlocked jury and two other juries which could not be seated.

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