Five years behind bars for WC sex assault
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
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.