MORGANTOWN — There were tears on both sides of the court room as a man who sexually abused two women in 2016 was sentenced to prison Thursday.
Mitchell Powers, 20, of Morgantown, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree sexual abuse. He was sentenced to consecutively serve one to five years on each count, by Judge Russell Clawges, of the Monongalia County Circuit Court. Powers will be under 25 years of supervision and must register as a sex offender following his release. He will also pay $490 in restitution to one of his victims and $10 to the Monongalia County Victim Assistance Program. Powers pleaded guilty using the Alford caveat, which means he did not admit details of the case.
People observing the sentencing, including one of Powers’ victims, cried after Clawges handed down the sentence, but Powers, wearing a black suit, showed no outward emotion, even as Clawges read his post-sentencing rights and he was handcuffed and remanded into custody. There were more than 15 people in the gallery.
Powers apologized to both of his victims by name, his victims’ families and his family. He said he took full responsibility for his actions and the damage caused. The Dominion Post does not typically identify victims of sexual crimes.
Powers’ attorney, Raymond Yackel, asked the court for an alternative sentence of home confinement, community service, day report and counseling.
Testifying on behalf of Powers, Jack Torsney, a therapist specializing in addiction and sexual offenses, said he met with Powers about 15 times to conduct a risk assessment and to create a treatment plan.
He said Powers was at moderate risk of reoffending.
Torsney said Powers had a “limited world view,” and “tends to deal in absolutes.” He attributed much of that to Powers’ youth. Torsney said he believed the best thing for Powers would be home confinement because he could use the structure. He said Powers should see him once a week and do community service.
“There’s a lot of damage here,” Torsney said, adding that the damage can’t be undone, but future damage could be prevented.
Perri Jo DeChristopher, Monongalia County prosecuting attorney, asked Torsney about treatment Powers received at Chestnut Ridge before the July 2016 incident; the prosecutor’s office was unable to obtain those records, she said. He replied that Powers told him he had been diagnosed with depression and bi-polar disorder, but that he had not seen the records himself.
DeChristopher asked if Powers had sought treatment prior to his guilty plea. Torsney initially replied in the affirmative, but after confirming some dates, said Powers only came to him after he pleaded guilty.
“He took way more away from us than we can from him,” one of Powers’ victims said.
The victim said Powers had proven he could do this more than once and he took away her security.
His second victim was not present, but her mother spoke and said her daughter had not been able to function well since his actions and did not leave the house much.
She said her daughter was especially scared to visit Morgantown out of fear of seeing Powers; she even sleeps with knives under her bed, the mother said. She called Powers’ actions “disgusting” and said the sentence request by the defense was ridiculous.
“He should go to jail and maybe be scared like my daughter is scared,” she said.
The victim whose mother spoke came forward first, after going to the hospital, DeChristopher said. The victim was intoxicated, but sent text messages to a friend during the incident, the first of which said a guy was with her and she couldn’t get him away. She also texted “help,” at 2:23 a.m.
DeChristopher said she was initially happy when the second victim, who spoke at the sentencing, came forward as the investigation progressed, but after consideration decided she hated to be happy about more victims.
“One should be enough,” she said.
The second victim said she was not impaired and that Powers held her arms behind her back and she told him no, DeChristopher said.
She said the case wasn’t about what was best for Powers, but was about the victims. DeChristopher pointed out that Powers did not seek counseling until after his guilty plea and asked the court for one to five years on both charges, a “significant period,” of extended supervision and $490 in restitution.
DeChristopher also asked the sentences run consecutively.
“If they run concurrent which victim would that address,” she asked.