2016-10-13 / Front Page

Alfred man sentenced for attempted rape of pre-teen relative

Senior Staff Writer

ALFRED — An Alfred man has been sentenced to almost two years in prison on two counts of attempted gross sexual assault of a pre-teen relative related to an incident at his home in October 2015.

York County Superior Court Justice Wayne Douglas sentenced Thomas Proia, 40, to five years on Tuesday, with all but 21 months suspended on the gross sexual assault charge.

He also received lesser sentences on other charges, all to be served concurrently with the 21-month sentence.

Proia had elected trial by judge. His defense counsel, Patrick Gordon, argued that he was in an abnormal condition of mind on Oct. 19, 2015, when he began feeling paranoid and delusional to the point that he thought someone was following him while he was shopping at Walmart.

Proia went home, grabbed two AR-15 rifles from the attic, and began firing in and around the exterior of his home at 280 Sanford Road. He told a pre-teen relative he was being followed, then attempted to sexually assault her by taking off his pants and underwear and her pants and underwear, prosecutor Shira Burns said during Proia’s trial in August. The girl managed to get away.

Proia testified that he’d had two beers that day, and that he smokes marijuana regularly. He is a registered medical marijuana patient and caregiver, and was taking prescribed medication at the time of the incident.

He was convicted of domestic violence reckless conduct, domestic violence assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and two counts of attempted gross sexual assault, as well as aggravated assault and criminal mischief involving a neighbor.

Prior to announcing the guilty verdict on Sept. 1, Douglas said an abnormal condition of the mind “clearly” existed in the case, and that Proia was experiencing some “distorted perception of reality.” But, he added, the question wasn’t whether Proia had the abnormal condition, but if he acted intentionally, knowingly or willingly.

At sentencing, Gordon sought a two-year sentence for his client, with all but 11 months suspended, saying Proia had suffered from a psychotic episode. He said his client was “very sorry,” and that a shorter prison term would prompt treatment and get him back to work.

Burns asked for 10 years, with all but seven years suspended. She noted that even though the girl was not physically hurt, she would “suffer a lifetime of consequences.” In a pre-sentencing memoranda, Burns said a shorter sentence would diminish the gravity of the defense.

In addition to his prison sentence, Proia is to serve four years’ probation, is prohibited from possessing firearms, and must pay an estimated $3,000 in restitution to a neighbor.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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