Saturday, October 30, 1999

Soldier’s sex crimes
bring life sentence

Joseph Purtell Jr. raped a
17-year-old girl at knife-point
and tried to kidnap a woman

By Debra Barayuga


A Schofield Barracks soldier who pleaded guilty to stalking and sexually assaulting seven victims in the Village Park area in spring 1998 was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.

Circuit Judge Victoria Marks yesterday granted the state's request for an extended term of imprisonment for Joseph Purtell Jr., saying it was necessary for the protection of the public.

Purtell, who recently received a dishonorable discharge from the Army, was 21 when he preyed on seven females ranging in age from 11 to 29 years, all within a 1-mile radius of the Wal-Mart in Kunia.

He pleaded guilty to 13 charges that stemmed from incidents within a six-week period, including walking through the parking lot of the Wal-Mart "buck naked" and exposing himself to two victims; exposing himself to an 11- and 12-year-old; raping a 17-year-old girl at knife-point; and attempting to abduct at knife-point a woman on her way to work.

The charges included four counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, six counts of first-degree sexual assault, harassment/stalking and attempted kidnapping.

Purtell has been in custody since his arrest in May 1998 after a couple of his victims managed to take down his license plate number.

The defense portrayed Purtell as having a high IQ but the product of a "model dysfunctional family" who was psychologically and sexually abused as early as when he was 4 or 5.

Reports show his father was a heavy drug user and his mother abused drugs and alcohol, exposed him to explicit sex and used him to make pornographic movies. He was also sodomized.

Deputy public defender Reginald Yee said Purtell is remorseful for what he did and took responsibility early on by deciding to plead guilty.

But Deputy Prosecutor Thalia Murphy argued that Purtell is a danger to society, noting the crimes he pleaded guilty to involved "stealth and planning."

Purtell asked an 11- and 12-year-old for directions, exposed himself and tried to entice them into his car. He watched a 17-year-old enter her girlfriend's house, waited until she left before abducting her at knife-point and subjected her to "deviant" sexual acts, Murphy said. "She will live with this for the rest of her life."

The girl told the judge yesterday she needed to face her attacker and tell him what he did to her was wrong.

While the incident happened over a year ago, "it still hurts and I want him to know, and I want him to pay for what he did to me and the other girls," she said, choking back tears. "Nobody deserves this."

She said shortly after the incident that she was humiliated after students at school began pointing at her or whispering about her in the hallways. She ended up dropping out of school and experimenting with drugs because she didn't know how to deal with what had happened to her.

Psychologist Gary Farkas said Purtell suffers from an antisocial personality disorder that includes unwanted touching of others to create sexual excitement, exhibitionism and voyeurism. Purtell also admitted fantasies about forced sex and bondage.

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