Psychiatric report helps man stay out of jail

A Tyrone man charged with the statutory sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl will spend the next nine months on home monitoring and detention rather than serving a jail term, under a sentence handed down Wednesday by Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan.

The judge in imposing the sentence relied heavily on a psychiatric report of the defendant in which it was recommended the young man not be placed behind bars because “he would undoubtedly be victimized and in no position to protect himself.”

Dr. Joseph L. Antonowicz said he would “advocate against incarceration in his case.”

The defendant, Thomas Garrett Cooper, now 22, of 430 Washington Ave. was charged with another man of “hanging out” with a 15-year-old at her home on Oct. 22, 2011. He pleaded no contest.

The teen was not in school because she supposedly was ill that day.

Cooper, who was addicted to cold pills, brought some to her house. Not only were the pills used, but the two had a sexual relationship.

The two men were discovered in the house when the girl’s mother came home and Tyrone police were called.

Sullivan wanted to get a sense of the young man’s mental ability and state of mind before sentencing him.

He referred the case to Antonowicz, the medical director of the behavioral health unit at Altoona Regional Health System.

The judge read from the report as he discussed his sentence that includes three months of wearing an ankle bracelet and the six additional months of home detention without the monitoring device. His maximum sentence is 23 months.

Antonowicz pointed out that Cooper is employed, has stopped using cold or cough medicine to get high and has had no further contact with the young girl.

He concluded Cooper is a person who is impulsive and easily influenced.

“I think he does not pose any substantial risk to the community, and I think he’s unlikely to reoffend,” the doctor stated in his report.

Sullivan said that Cooper will be living for the next nine months at home, and during that time he can leave only for work, medical appointments and religious services.

The young man’s probation officer can also give him permission to leave home for other reasons.

A violation of the terms of his release could result in incarceration, Sullivan said.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.