NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Moroccan construction worker who admitted beating a nurse unconscious and trying to molest her in a New York City bar bathroom after a dance-floor encounter but then changed his mind was sentenced Thursday to 16 years in prison.
With the woman in the courtroom audience, Mbarek Lafrem tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty plea as he faced sentencing, filing papers he’d drawn up without his lawyer’s input. People are warned when pleading guilty that they can’t change their minds later.
“What I want to say, nobody accepts it,” Lafrem said after his bid was turned down. “Let the judge decide.”
Lafrem, 32, pleaded guilty last month to assault and attempted sexual abuse in the March 2010 attack. He got the prison term a judge had promised him last month; prosecutors had sought 20 years.
Lafrem has been in the United States since 2004. He was living in Norwood, Pa., but staying at a Manhattan hotel for a metal work job when he crossed paths with the woman, then 29, at the Social Bar & Grill in Hell’s Kitchen.
Lafrem twirled the woman briefly on the dance floor, but then she moved away and went to a women’s bathroom, authorities said. He followed her into a stall and hit her in the face when she screamed at him, prosecutors said.
The woman was found unconscious, with her jaw and eye socket broken and her pants inside-out and nearly pulled off, prosecutors said. She still can’t feel her bottom lip, Assistant District Attorney Shanda Strain said Thursday.
Some of the woman’s blood was found in Lafrem’s hotel room, apparently because he’d had it on his clothing when he left the bar, prosecutors said. He was arrested after co-workers recognized him in a surveillance video police released of a man walking down the street shortly after the attack.
Lafrem told police he went into the women’s bathroom by accident and threw her to the floor after she lashed out at him. He admitted during his guilty plea that he had hit her, but he doesn’t remember much else, said his lawyer, Yana A. Roy.
“He had consumed a large amount of alcohol,” Roy said outside court.
The woman didn’t speak at Lafrem’s sentencing and left court without speaking to reporters.
Lafrem will be subject to deportation after finishing his prison term.
Share your thoughts on this story in the comments section…
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)