A Western State Hospital employee accused of fondling patients was sentenced this week.
Christopher Conley, 49, pleaded guilty in August to indecent liberties and third-degree assault. He maintained his innocence but agreed to plead guilty to take advantage of negotiations with prosecutors.
Both the defense and prosecution recommended a two-year sentence, and Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend agreed Monday.
Conley fondled patients in a TV room, linen closet and on a patio in April and May 2016, according to charging papers.
He was a psychiatric security attendant at the inpatient psychiatric facility and has since resigned.
A supervisor was suspended for 10 days without pay for failing to report the allegations to superiors.
One of Conley’s four victims addressed the court before sentencing.
She said of the other victims: “I hope there’s a way for them to have a voice somehow.”
She also said she hopes Conley can be healed. It’s obvious, she said, that “there’s something wrong there.”
Another victim wrote the court about Conley.
“He would say sexual remarks and jokes to us and give us candy to not say anything so he wouldn’t be fired,” the statement said. “Then he took it a step further.”
She told the court that he grabbed her butt and another patient’s breast outside a recreation area at the state hospital.
“We both were very uncomfortable and horrified by what happened so we went to our rooms where we cried and tried to grasp what had happened and wondered if it was going to happen again.”
She asked the court for the maximum sentence possible.
“I often wonder how someone could take advantage of mentally unstable people like this or anyone else,” she wrote.
Defense attorney Robert Quillian told the court he thinks Conley will do well in the long run.
“I think he’s looking forward, not backwards,” the attorney said.
Conley told the judge that he has a support network and that he believes he’ll be ready to reenter society when he’s released.
He said he’s a planner and that he’s struggled with not knowing what to expect behind bars.
“The one thing I’m not hearing you say is anything about the people who are your victims,” Judge Arend replied.
Conley told her that he had done nothing wrong and that he was a “political victim of Western State.”
As for the victim who spoke in court, he said: “I’m sorry she feels that way.”