A registered sex offender pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to raping and sexually abusing a Coquille woman in January.
Defendant Paul W. Pizzola stood before Judge Michael Gillespie at the Coos County Courthouse for a change plea-hearing on three counts of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse, as well as unlawful possession of methamphetamine, fourth-degree assault and menacing. The entire list of charges stems from the Jan. 11 case.
Because the 41-year-old and his attorney Carole Hamilton of the Southwestern Oregon Public Defenders Services Inc. took a plea deal with the Coos County District Attorney’s Office, the court reduced Pizzola’s charges to first-degree rape and first-degree sexual abuse. The remaining counts were dismissed.
Coos County District Attorney R. Paul Frasier said he pursued a plea bargain because he was concerned that if the case went to trial and the state won, the judge might merge Pizzola’s sentence, making it a shorter span of time.
“We’re looking at a case where the defendant raped and sodomized her multiple times during this time frame,” Frasier said. “You don’t know what a judge will do.”
In the incident, Coquille police arrested Pizzola on Jan. 11 after a friend of a Coquille woman reported an assault to 911 dispatchers shortly after 8 a.m.
The other factor, and a driving one at that, Frasier said, is the victim didn’t want to go to trial.
“Obviously she had gone through a very traumatic incident. When I explained the options to her she wanted to get a resolution short of going to trial.”
She also felt that a guilty plea on first-degree rape and first-degree sex abuse was sufficient for the Coos Bay man, Frasier said. Both are Measure 11 offenses.
Pizzola faces a minimum 14 years and seven months. He may also receive an up to $625,000 fine.
Frasier added that Pizzola’s sentence may be impacted by his criminal record. Several years ago in Coos County he faced charges of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sex abuse, but pleaded guilty only to one count of the latter charge. He got 75 months in prison and three years post-prision supervision on the March 7, 1999, incident.
“If he has a horrendous record, the presumptive sentence under the guidelines might be greater, but I have to look at that and see,” Frasier said.
Pizzola is set to re-appear for a sentencing hearing at 9 a.m. on March 17.