Jail sentence for sexual assault

Wednesday June 13, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A mentally ill man high on drugs and alcohol, who walked into a woman's home in September 2010 and molested her, was given two years in jail and five years of probation after pleading guilty on Tuesday to five felonies in Berkshire Superior Court.

Nathan Purvis, 29, pleaded guilty to single counts of breaking and entering in the nighttime for a felony and assault with the intent to commit rape and three counts of indecent assault and battery on someone 14 or older.

According to Assistant Berkshire Dis trict Attorney Marianne Shelvey, at about 2 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2010, a then 23-year-old medical student awoke to find a stranger walking into her room. He sat on the edge of her bed, put his hand on her shoulder, and asked her how she was doing. She asked him who he was, to which he responded, "You called me over here, don't you remember?"

The woman had never seen Purvis before. Over the course of close to an hour, he assaulted her and refused to leave. The victim was eventually able to get Purvis out of her house and call the police.

Purvis suffers from various mental health problems, including bipolar disorder, and had been drinking and on narcotics the night of the attack, according to Shelvey.

Shelvey said that the DA's office took several factors into account when crafting the sentence, including the defendant's mental health. She said they didn't believe state prison would be appropriate for Purvis, but that he should spend two years at the Berk shire County Jail & House of Correction. The victim, she said, left it up to the DA's Office to decide the appropriate sentence for Purvis.

Purvis' attorney, Michelle Mechta, said that her client had been to the house before and went there that night looking for a friend of his and was not a predator. In his mental state, he believed that the woman liked him.

Purvis described what occurred between himself and the woman as a "flirtatious waltz" to the Pittsfield Police, according to Mechta.

"He got more aggressive at points, and that's why he is here today pleading guilty," Mechta told the court.

Mechta said her client was a gifted artist with above average intelligence, but that he suffered from mental illness and had a childhood of "benign neglect," without guidance from a mother who also had bipolar disorder.

Mechta asked that Purvis be given a two-year suspended sentence and five years of probation.

Purvis seemed at first shocked and then resigned when Judge Mary Lou Rup sentenced him to two years in jail, followed by five years of probation, the sentence the DA's Office had sought.

While on probation, Purvis must enter a sex offender treatment program, refrain from using drugs and alcohol, undergo testing, continue to take medications as prescribed, and have no contact with the victim. He will also have to register with the state as a sex offender.

Three counts of assault and battery were dismissed at the request of the DA's Office.


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