PORTALES, N.M. (KRQE) – On Wednesday, a jury found a local Portales man guilty of nine counts of causing or permitting a child (age 13-18) to engage in sexual exploitation. The 53-year-old, Anthony West, was a registered sex offender for a sexual battery conviction before the incident.

The latest conviction was the result of investigations started in 2020, according to the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office. At the time, state police officers apparently found hundreds of explicit photos and videos of West engaging in sex acts with a child as young as sixteen.

The Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office says this seems to have been a case of ‘grooming’ – a process by which offenders and sexual predators gradually pull victims into abuse. They suspect a gradual process in this case because law enforcement found images connecting West to a victim beginning when the victim was 13 years old and extending to when the victim was over the age of 18, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

“It is not uncommon for a victim of this kind of sexual abuse to recant or struggle with breaking away from the abuse,” prosecutor Brian Stover said in a press release. “The mental stress that a victim is under is extreme. They often blame themselves for the abuse. Our job is to seek after the truth. Sometimes we have to protect the victims from themselves.”

Following the verdict, West has been scheduled for sentencing in May. He faces a maximum sentence of 99 years in prison.