Five years be­hind bars for WC sex as­sault

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

WEST CH­ESTER >> The West Ch­ester man who forced him­self sex­u­ally on a woman in his South Church Street apart­ment on St. Pa­trick’s Day has been sen­tenced to more than five years in state prison.

Wil­liam “Billy” Venella, a 26-year-old with a string of drug con­vic­tions, pleaded guilty Tues­day to charges of sex­ual as­sault and sim­ple as­sault for the March in­ci­dent, in which the vic­tim said he at­tacked her af­ter ask­ing, “Are you go­ing to be nice to me the rest of the night?”

Com­mon Pleas Judge Phyllis Stre­i­tel sen­tenced Venella to 5 1/2 to 12 years in prison for those of­fenses, a sen­tence that had been

ne­go­ti­ated be­tween the prose­cu­tor in the case, As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney An­drea Car­da­mone, and Venella’s at­tor­ney, Alex Silow of

West Ch­ester.

Stre­i­tel added an­other six to 12 months on that sen­tence as part of a pro­ba­tion vi­o­la­tion that Venella

faced on three drug con­vic­tions. He has been in Ch­ester County Prison since his ar­rest in March.

The vic­tim, a West Ch­ester

Univer­sity stu­dent, ad­dressed Stre­i­tel be­fore the for­mal sen­tenc­ing, ex­plain­ing to her how the at­tack by some­one she knew and liked had af­fected her. Although she re­mains in school, she said she is care­ful about walk­ing the cam­pus in the evening, and con­tin­ues to be trau­ma­tized by the events of the night.

She also told Stre­i­tel that she hopes that Venella, who had not ex­pressed re­morse for the as­sault, gets coun­sel­ing that will help him deal with his anger. As part of the sen­tence, Venella was or­dered to un­dergo a men­tal health eval­u­a­tion.

The 22-year-old woman, whose name is be­ing with­held by the Daily Lo­cal News be­cause of the na­ture of the of­fense, also paid trib­ute to the West Ch­ester po­lice, who came upon her af­ter the as­sault and while Venella was con­fronting her in the park­ing lot of a nearby Burger King. She cred­ited Of­fi­cer Chris Craig with sav­ing her life.

Venella, in his state­ment to Stre­i­tel, of­fered a brief apol­ogy to the vic­tim, whom he had met at work in 2015.

Ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony at a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing ear­lier this year, the woman said she had gone

with Venella to the house he shared with room­mates af­ter meet­ing up with him at a friend’s home the night of March 17. When they en­tered the house, Venella grabbed her by the throat and ripped off strings of beads she had been wear­ing in cel­e­bra­tion of the St. Pa­trick’s Day holiday.

Con­fused at his anger, the woman said she asked Venella what was wrong. “Are you go­ing to be nice to me the rest of the night?” she tes­ti­fied. But he did not re­spond, she said. “He just un­but­toned my pants,” she said.

The woman said that af­ter tak­ing down the pants she was wear­ing, Venella forced her over the arm­rest of a sofa and forced her to have sex with him. While he did, she begged him to stop, she said.

“I just don’t want to do this,” she tes­ti­fied.. “Please stop. I just kept beg­ging him, ‘Please don’t do this.’”

The woman said that af­ter the at­tack, she left the house and that Venella fol­lowed her to Burger King, where he took a phone she was us­ing to call a friend away from her and broke it on the ground.

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