Sex offender gets 50 years for assault on Lakeside woman
Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Westfall enters a courtroom at the Flathead County Justice Center on Thursday, July 22, 2021. Westfall received a 50-year sentence for the attempted rape and aggravated assault of an older woman at a resort in Lakeside in 2020. (Scott Shindledecker/Daily Inter Lake)
Hagadone News Network | July 22, 2021 3:15 PM
A Butte man convicted of 15 felony offenses is headed to the Montana State Prison after he was sentenced Thursday in connection with an attempted rape and aggravated assault at a Lakeside resort.
Jeffrey Allen Westfall, 54, was sentenced to 50 years, with a 15-year parole restriction, by Flathead District Court Judge Heidi Ulbricht. He was also designated a persistent felony offender and a Tier 2 sex offender.
Westfall pleaded guilty to attempted rape and aggravated assault on April 20. His trial on the offenses began April 19, but after the victim of the crimes, a 69-year-old woman, testified and video surveillance footage was shown of the incident, Westfall changed his mind.
The incident occurred Aug. 23, 2020, in Lakeside at the Edgewater RV Resort. The victim managed the business with her 70-year-old husband. Westfall came to the resort on the pretense of wanting a room, even though his girlfriend already had rented one.
Westfall punched the 69-year-old woman and she suffered a broken jaw. He then tried to remove her clothes.
But her husband, who had been asleep in bed, heard his wife's screams, entered the office and kicked Westfall in the butt. Westfall turned and the two men fought briefly before the accused ran out of the office.
WESTFALL'S CRIMINAL record dates back more than 30 years and some of the incidents involved sexual offenses.
According to court documents, Westfall has been convicted of 13 felonies, including rape, attempted rape, burglary, felony DUI, possession of stolen property and failure to register as a sexual offender.
He is listed in the Montana Department of Justice sex offender website as a sexually violent predator. He was sentenced June 1, 1987, for the rape of a 31-year-old woman in Everett, Washington.
Just prior to the Lakeside incident, a May 5, 2020, story in the Montana Standard reported Westfall's arrest on a felony complaint of attempted sexual intercourse without consent following a report that he was wandering into rooms at Big Sky Senior Living and allegedly asked one resident if she wanted a massage.
Officers said when they responded to the facility they found Westfall in a resident's room.
Flathead County Deputy Attorney Andrew Clegg wanted a 50-year sentence with no parole for 15 years. Thursday, he was pleased with the outcome of the hearing.
"I think he's a truly evil person and I believe the sentence is appropriate and well-deserved," Clegg said.
Westfall, his brother Jody Westfall, and his public defender Greg Rapkoch each spoke on behalf of the convicted man.
"He (Jeffrey) is a genuinely good person, but his issues are based on his chemical dependency," Jody Westfall said. "We've stayed in touch and every time he's had criminal activity, drugs and alcohol were part of it.
"I'm a firm believer in rehabilitation, he's been remorseful to me and I don't think one decision should hamper his ability to be free someday," Jody said.
Rapkoch wanted a lower parole restriction so "Jeffrey can get help for his drug and alcohol problems and other issues in 3 to 7 years instead of 7 to 15 years."
Rapkoch explained many treatment opportunities are delayed for those serving longer sentences in the state prison.
Jeffrey Westfall became somewhat emotional when he addressed the court.
"I abused the woman sexually, physically and mentally," he admitted. "My very first meeting with Alisha Rapkoch (then his defense attorney), I told her I was guilty and she told me to fight it and I was pushed into a trial I didn't want."
When Clegg argued for 50 years with the parole restriction, he spoke of Jeffrey Westfall's actions during the trial.
"He flipped off the jury, he didn't take a plea until the victim testified against him, he did everything to avoid this prosecution," Clegg said. "He's a dangerous, dangerous individual and I can't think of anything that should allow him to walk among innocent civilians again."
Westfall then tried to assert that both convictions meant double jeopardy occurred, but his words fell on deaf ears when Ulbricht announced the sentence.
"This claim further illustrates your manipulation," she said.
Westfall received credit for time served of 332 days in the Flathead County Detention Center.
Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.