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Calcium man sentenced to 15 years in prison for sex with minors

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A Calcium man was sentenced to 15 years in state prison Tuesday after Jefferson County Judge Kim H. Martusewicz denied his request to withdraw earlier guilty pleas to charges that he had repeated sexual contact with a girl and had sexual intercourse with a second minor.

Paul J. Priest, 43, address not available, also was ordered to undergo five additional years of supervision and register with the state as a sex offender upon his release from prison after pleading guilty Jan. 31 to first-degree course of sexual conduct with a child and third-degree rape as a result of separate incidents.

He admitted at the time he entered his pleas that between June 11, 2011, and Sept. 11, 2011, he engaged in sexual acts with a child under the age of 13. He also admitted that he had sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old girl, who was not the same victim as in 2011, on May 28 in the town of LeRay.

Before sentencing, Priest told Judge Martusewicz that his pleas had been “coerced” by Assistant Public Defender Sheila M. Crowley. He claimed that he had given Miss Crowley names of people she could talk to who might may have evidence to prove his innocence, but that she did not talk to the people.

“I’m scared for my life,” he said. “I’m scared of going to prison for something I didn’t do.”

Miss Crowley told Judge Martusewicz that she did investigate the matter further and, based on what she discovered, determined that filing a motion to have Priest’s pleas withdrawn would be “frivolous.”

Assistant District Attorney Harmony A. Healy said that a review of the transcript of Priest’s pleas showed that he was asked whether he was coerced or threatened into entering his pleas and that he had stated he was not. She said he indicated he was entering his pleas “so that he could avoid possible harsher ramifications.” Judge Martusewicz agreed.

“After reading the transcript, I find that you made a knowing and voluntary plea,” the judge said as he pronounced the prison sentence.

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