News Article Details

Chesterfield man gets three years in 2014 sexual assault

Richmond Times-Dispatch - 3/8/2017

A Chesterfield County man diagnosed with a form of autism has been sentenced to a three-year jail term for two sexual assault convictions stemming from a 2012 incident.

Drew Harrison, 30, was convicted of forcible sodomy and object sexual penetration on Jan. 22, 2014, for an incident involving a former girlfriend. Later that year, he was sentenced to 50 years in prison with 47 years suspended.

Harrison appealed, but the Virginia Court of Appeals upheld the judge's ruling, concluding: "She told him both by her words and physical resistance that she did not want him to do what he was doing to her."

The Virginia Supreme Court did not take up an appeal of that decision and last Thursday, Chesterfield County Circuit Judge Steven C. McCallum imposed the sentence.

At the time of the assault, Harrison had not been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning subtype of autism.

A person with Asperger's can appear normal and have above-average intelligence but may have profound social shortcomings that, according to Harrison's lawyers, can include the inability or limited ability to interpret body language and other nonverbal communication and to be unaware of the distress or disinterest of others.

Harrison's mother, Judy Harrison, said Tuesday that her son is having an extremely difficult time in jail because of his disability and because he has not been allowed to take his medications.

"Understandably, we are heartbroken and trying to ensure that Drew is at very least treated humanely," she said.

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