By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
A Melrose man was sentenced to 18 years in prison Monday for sexually assaulting another man in April 2004.
A Curry County jury found Steve Woods, 33, guilty in December of criminal sexual penetration, a first-degree felony, and criminal sexual contact and false imprisonment, both fourth degree felonies. The 18-year sentence was mandatory for the first-degree felony conviction, prosecutors said.
“Any criminal penetration crime is serious,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Andrea Reeb. “It’s something we take seriously, it doesn’t matter if the victim is male or female.”
Woods will also face 3 1/2 years of supervised probation when released, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office.
Woods’ mother said the charges against her son were completely false.
“I think it was a bunch of baloney,” said Juanita Woods. “He’s a good boy and he’s been nothing but good to people around here. And he is not a sexual molester.”
However, that’s not how a Curry County jury saw things when they considered the case in December.
“He was convicted of that (first-degree sexual penetration) because it caused the victim great mental anguish,” Reeb said. She added that the jury made that determination.
Reeb said Woods and the victim were drinking beer at the victim’s house April 29 when they began arguing. According to prosecutors, Woods attempted to engage the victim in a fight. When the victim refused, Woods held him against his will and sexually assaulted him.
Prosecutors said the victim’s girlfriend came into the room where the assault happened and Woods left at that point.
Because this crime is considered a serious violent offense, Woods will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence before eligible for parole.
Wood’s attorney, Jim Wilson, could not be reached Monday night for comment.