CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — A man charged with third-degree sexual assault in relation to an incident reported on Sept. 4, 2019, has been sentenced to 1-5 years in prison and 45 years of supervised release before Harrison County Circuit Judge Christopher McCarthy.
In the sentencing for Christopher Watson, which took place via Microsoft Teams teleconference service due to COVID-19 restrictions, Harrison County Assistant Prosecutor Brad Pustolski represented the state and Attorney Dean Morgan represented Watson during the teleconference.
Watson had previously pleaded guilty to the charge of third-degree sexual assault on Aug. 11 after being indicted by the Harrison County Grand Jury in its May 2020 term. Prior to the indictment, Watson’s case was sent to circuit court due to Magistrate Tammy Marple finding probably cause for the case to proceed.
In the opening of the sentencing, McCarthy stated that the incarceration investigation had not been able to be completed due to the court being unable to find information about Watson’s previous Upshur County residence and the Clarksburg Mission not accepting new residents.
For that reason, the court had held Watson’s guilty plea in abeyance, but had been accepted as of the Sept. 30 sentencing.
Speaking for the family of the victim, Pustolski said that they would wish to hold to the sentence requested when Watson gave his guilty plea.
Pustolski went on to state that due to the “disturbing and violent” means by which the crime was committed and due to the fact that it would have “an effect on the victim for the rest of her life,” and Watson’s history of drug abuse, Pustolski asked that the court hold to the maximum possible sentence for the crime.
The crime of third-degree sexual assault in the state of West Virginia, Pustolski stated, held a term of 1-5 years in prison, along with a maximum of 50 years supervised release, which he asked the court to impose on Watson; he also asked that restitution be paid for the ambulance needed to transport the victim as a result of the incident.
Speaking for Watson, however, Morgan stated that he would like to see an alternative sentence imposed instead of incarceration. Morgan said that the incident stemmed from a substance abuse problem which Watson had been struggling with for most of his life.
For the alternative sentencing, Morgan asked that the court instead offer Watson the maximum amount of probation to “allow for him to get on his feet” and “provide for his family”; Morgan also stated that Watson has been open about his drug abuse and has worked with law enforcement while being incarcerated.
Morgan asked that Watson be placed into a long-term rehabilitation facility to help him work through his drug addiction and after the term in the facility, should it be successfully completed, that Watson be allowed on probation with the “most lenient” sex offender classification allowed to him.
When McCarthy asked Watson if he had a statement of allocution or any questions otherwise, Watson stated, “I wish to put this behind me and move forward with my life.”
After hearing from Watson, McCarthy gave him his sentence: 1-5 years in prison and 45 years supervised release with credit given for the 362 days Watson had already served in holding.
McCarthy also stated that Watson would have to pay court fees and any other restitution, the amount of which would be decided later during a civil judgement. McCarthy also told Watson he would be placed on the sex offender registry for life and read him the registration requirements.
In declining the defense’s request for an alternative sentence, McCarthy stated his decision was due to Watson’s two previous felony convictions, antisocial behavior disorder, history of drug abuse, unwillingness to accept responsibility for the incident, being a poor candidate for public placement and a high change of re-offending.