A child rapist faces life in prison after a Spokane County jury convicted him Friday of three crimes involving sexual assaults against prostitutes.
Pierre D. West, 49, clenched his jaw and shook his head as Superior Court Judge Michael Price said a jury had convicted the registered sex offender of two counts of second-degree rape, two counts of unlawful imprisonment and one count of second-degree assault with sexual motivation.
He was acquitted of eight counts, including harassment, first-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping. The jury of six men and six women deadlocked on two counts.
One of the women who testified against West cried when she learned the jury acquitted him of raping her.
West qualifies for the state’s two-strikes, life-in-prison law for violent sexual offenders because of a previous conviction for third-degree rape of a child in 1988, said Deputy Prosecutor John Love.
The jury was not allowed to know West was a registered level 3 sex offender, considered the classification most likely to reoffend.
Lynn Everson, a needle exchange coordinator at the Spokane Regional Health District who helped police identify some of West’s victims and testified at trial, wonders if that affected the verdicts.
She also wonders, she said, “if there was societal bias against women who work in prostitution.”
Love said he’s satisfied with the verdicts. “Obviously (the acquittals do) matter. We have victims who were hurt,” Love said. “Juries take their time and they look at all the evidence, and the state has to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Women told jurors that West hired them as prostitutes, then terrorized them at his Spokane Valley home.
Authorities said West probably thought it was unlikely the victims would report him. But five came forward to describe the customer who, starting in 2005, held them inside his home and forced them to perform – sometimes on videotape – sexual acts.
After a lengthy Spokane County Sheriff’s Office investigation, detectives in August 2007 arrested West.
He’s been in Spokane County Jail since then. He’ll be sentenced Friday at 3:30 p.m.