FRONT ROYAL – A Warren County man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in September pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Monday and avoided a jury trial.
Basil John Chuppa stood charged in Warren County Circuit Court with one count each of aggravated sexual battery and strangulation. Chuppa, 41, of 497 Catlett Mountain Road, faced a jury trial Monday. As of Friday, parties had filed proposed questions they intended to ask of the potential jurors called to appear for the trial.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office accused Chuppa of committing aggravated sexual battery by force with serious injury against a woman on Sept. 2. Authorities also charged Chuppa with strangling the victim. Chuppa faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted of both felonies.
However, the agreement reached between Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton and Chuppa’s lawyer John Bell called for the defendant to plead no contest to the amended indictment that reduces the aggravated sexual battery count to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery. The agreement called for Chuppa to plead no contest to strangulation.
The court called jurors to appear for the trial but Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. did not impanel the jury given that parties had reached the agreement.
The agreement leaves it up to a judge to determine the punishment. Misdemeanor sexual battery carries a maximum of 12 months in jail compared to 20 years for aggravated sexual battery. Strangulation carries up to five years in prison. The judge scheduled Chuppa’s sentencing for June 28.
A criminal complaint filed in the case states that the Sheriff’s Office received a report on Sept. 5 of a sexual assault. The victim told an investigator that she went to Chuppa’s home on the night of Sept. 2. When Chuppa started to flirt with her, she told him they were only friends, the complaint states. Chuppa tried to kiss her and she told him “no.”
An altercation occurred and she fell to the ground. He climbed on top of her and proceeded to sexually assault her, according to the criminal complaint. Chuppa then bit the woman on her neck and started to strangle her, the complaint states. The woman told the investigator she fought back and freed herself.
The woman had multiple bruises consistent with an assault, the complaint states. A forensic nurse examined her and said the injuries appeared consistent with the victim’s statements, according to the complaint.