Sex offender takes plea

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A 39-year-old Centre County man who entered a no contest plea to indecently assaulting a 5-year-old Tyrone girl will be required to register his whereabouts with state police for the rest of his life.

Kevin J. Ross, 39, 1052 W. Fowler Hollow Road, Port Matilda, agreed to the requirement in Blair County court on Monday, where he also pleaded no contest to corruption of minors.

Judge Jolene G. Kopriva handed down the negotiated sentence of three to 23 months in prison, followed by five years probation. Because Ross already served five months in prison before posting bail, he was credited for time served and allowed to remain free.

“Because of the new law, you have to register your address every year for the rest of your life,” Kopriva told Ross, who shook his head in agreement.

In December, Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation to strengthen the state’s Megan’s Law and to bring it into line with the tougher federal legislation called the Adam Walsh Act. A national advocacy group for sex offenders is challenging the updated version with longer registration requirements, but the provisions remain in effect.

Assistant District Attorney DeAnne Paul said she agreed with the plea because it will spare the child, now almost 6 years old, from having to testify in court.

In October, Tyrone police charged Ross with six felonies and two misdemeanors, based on an investigation that began after the girl told her mother of the alleged abuse, in September, two days after the girl spent the night with relatives in Tyrone.

Paul said in court that some of the original charges could not be sustained, so she agreed that they should be dropped. The girl’s parents, in a statement Paul read in court, said Ross should serve some time in jail, but they would leave the punishment up to the court.

“After learning what he did, all we wanted to do was hurt him, but two wrongs don’t make a right,” the parents wrote. They also described Ross as capable of being a nice guy when he’s not drinking.

Attorney Phil Robertson said Ross has been out of jail since April 10 and subject to monitoring through the county’s adult parole and probation office.

The judge also ordered Ross to live alone and have no contact with the girl or her immediate family members.