CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A 55-year-old man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman.
A Charleston County jury found James Adam Paquette guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. The jury reached its verdict Thursday afternoon following a three-day trial.
Paquette is also required to register as a sex offender.
“The victim’s courage in quickly reporting this assault is what secured our conviction," said Solicitor Scarlett Wilson."We are grateful to her for standing strong and for showing others who have been abused that if they will work with us, we have a chance to convict sex offenders.”
Officials with the Ninth Solicitor’s Office said Paquette and the victim had known each other prior to the incident but did not have a sexual relationship. According to prosecutors, on the night of the assault, the two met at a local bar for drinks.
“After only an hour, the victim strangely appeared to be grossly intoxicated, and another friend drove her home,” prosecutors said."Without anyone’s knowledge, the defendant soon followed."
A report states later in the evening, the victim’s friend returned to check on the victim, and she noticed the light flicker off and someone move the curtains in the apartment. Thinking it was the victim, she tried to open the door.
Prosecutors said the door was locked, so she peered through the door window and saw Paquette pushing open the victim’s legs and performing a sex act on the victim who was not moving and who was clearly unresponsive.
According to the Ninth Solicitor’s Office, the friend, in a state of panic, ran to neighbors for assistance and called others to come to the victim’s residence.
“They arrived and witnessed the defendant continuing to assault the victim while she was obviously incapacitated,” prosecutors said."They banged on the door and threatened to call law enforcement. Moments later, the defendant threw a blanket over the victim and cracked open the door."
Authorities said before he could slam the door shut, the friends were able to force their way into the residence. Prosecutors said when inside, they found the victim naked from the waist down and unable to fully communicate.
Because the victim was incapacitated, she did not know what had happened to her, according to court documents.
The next morning, her friends told her what they witnessed. The victim reported to MUSC where she submitted to a forensic sexual assault exam.
The solicitor’s office said when interviewed by police, Paquette denied ever having had sexual relations with the victim and stated that he loved her “like his daughters.”
Prosecutors said swabs from the victim’s genital area taken during the sexual assault exam revealed a DNA match to Paquette.
In addition, other evidence further contradicted the defendant’s description of the evening, according to the solicitor’s office.
“Without the cooperation of the victim’s friends and neighbors who were willing to speak up when they saw a wrong being committed, this case would have likely gone unreported and unprosecuted," Assistant Solicitor Alexandra Ginsburg stated."I’m proud to be a part of this community and to be such a small part in providing closure to this victim and her friends.”
Assistant Solicitors Alexandra Ginsburg and Jessica Baldwin prosecuted the case with the assistance of Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office investigators, Erin Meyer and Josh Cheney.
Detective Keith Herriott with Charleston County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.