Nevada County jury finds man guilty on all counts after sex assault trial
A Nevada County jury didn’t buy a defense argument that a 62-year-old man believed a BDSM contract meant he had his victim’s consent, finding him guilty Tuesday on all counts.
Wesley Panighetti erupted while the verdict was being read — guilty on three counts of sodomy by use of force, two counts of oral copulation by use of force, and one count each of criminal threats, first-degree burglary, attempting to dissuade a victim or witness, and misdemeanor battery — and was removed from court.
The jury also found true allegations of two prior violent felony convictions, in 1996 and 2015. Panighetti is set for sentencing on May 14 and is facing multiple 25-year-to-life terms, said Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh.
Jurors began deliberating last Thursday, and took all of the following Friday before returning Tuesday with their verdict.
Prosecutor Helenaz Moteabbed Hill had called Panighetti a sociopathic monster who abused his victim for years during an intermittent BDSM — bondage, domination, sadomasochism — relationship that ended in non-consensual sexual assault.
Panighetti’s attorney, Paul Comiskey, had argued his client had every reason to believe in the victim’s consent and sought to counteract the perception of the victim as naive and fearful.
Panighetti had disrupted the trial multiple times by interrupting Hill and talking loudly to his attorney. At one point he tried to fire Comiskey, a move denied by Superior Court Judge Robert Tice-Raskin.
He was removed from court during closing arguments and again as the verdict was being read Tuesday, refusing to stop talking despite repeated admonitions from Tice-Raskin.
“It doesn’t matter, I’m going to prison for the rest of my life,” Panighetti said. “You can’t do a … thing to me. … Send me back to my cage.”
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at email@example.com.
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