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Charles Arnold of South Hadley sentenced to prison for assault with intent to rape

A judge Thursday sentenced a South Hadley man who last year forced his way into a woman’s home and tried to sexually assault her to five to six years in state prison.

Charles Arnold, 55, of 4 Woodlawn Ave., was convicted Monday of assault with intent to rape, assault and battery, and intimidation of a witness in connection with the Sept. 1, 2011, attack.

Prosecutors were seeking a sentence of up to eight years based on the seriousness of the charges. Arnold’s lawyer, Jonah Goldsmith of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, sought a three-year sentence, noting his client’s problems were the result of struggles with substance abuse.

“When he’s sober, he’s a very productive guy,” Goldsmith told Hampshire Superior Court judge Mary-Lou Rup, who presided over the case.

When his state prison sentence is completed, Arnold will serve three years probation, during which time he must have no contact with the victim or her family, attend sex offender counseling, avoid alcohol and drugs and submit to random screenings.

During the sentencing hearing, Arnold also pleaded guilty to two counts of violating a restraining order for sending flowers and a Valentine’s Day card to the victim at her workplace in February 2012 while he was awaiting trial on the assault charges.

A card with the flowers read, “I still love you,” according to Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jayme Parent, who prosecuted the case.

Arnold was sentenced to probation on each of those counts that will run concurrently with the probation he will already be serving following his eventual release from prison.

Parent read a statement from the victim, who knew Arnold, in which she described Arnold’s attack as “brutal and unexpected,” and believed that he was intent on killing her.

She said in her statement that she still suffers from recurring nightmares and that she’s “shed more tears in the last year than in a lifetime.”

Arnold’s sentence will be stayed until Dec. 26 to allow his family an opportunity to visit him on Christmas in the Hampshire Jail and House of Correction before he is transferred to the Cedar Junction Correctional Institution in Walpole. Arnold received credit for 475 days of time already served in custody.

I know the victim. She may never be right based on the brutality of the attack.

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