LOVINGSTON — A jury found a Nelson County man guilty Tuesday of breaking into an elderly woman’s home and sexually assaulting her.
After about 45 minutes of deliberating, jurors found Oscar James Vest, 66, guilty in Nelson Circuit Court of aggravated sexual battery, object sexual penetration and breaking and entering in the June 2017 incident at a Lovingston apartment complex. The jury recommended a sentence of 18 years on the combined charges. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 22.
Nelson Circuit Court Judge Frederick Watson ruled to dismiss an abduction charge against Vest prior to the verdicts. Vest knocked on the victim’s door, forced his way into the home, pushed her against a wall and sexually assaulted her, according to prosecutors’ opening statement.
She suffered from health issues, was physically unable to fight him off, waited for the “nightmare” to end and immediately reported the incident, prosecutors said. Vest’s DNA was linked to the victim and his attorney, Scott De Bruin, said the defense doesn’t deny a sexual encounter took place and argued the woman initiated it.
The victim testified she never had met Vest before and he beat her during the incident, which left her in shock. When asked if she could physically get up during the encounter she said: “Absolutely not.”
Robert New, a former Nelson County Sheriff’s Office captain, said he interviewed the victim shortly after the assault and she appeared frail, disoriented and not able to speak clearly.
Vest has been incarcerated since his 2017 arrest, and three previous mistrials resulted from one deadlocked jury and two others that could not be seated.
He faced a maximum of life plus 40 years in prison.
“This is not the type of offense that requires Mr. Vest spend the rest of his life in prison,” De Bruin told jurors.
Nelson County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Erik Laub said Vest was convicted of rape and burglary in 1977 in Nelson County and asked the jury to consider that in recommending its sentence.
“You are the voice of the community,” Laub told jurors, adding: “I want you to protect the next person. Clearly, it’s happened twice.”
Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.