Ex-Altoona soccer coach declared violent predator
HOLLIDAYSBURG – A former Altoona Area School District assistant soccer coach was found Wednesday to be a sexual violent predator under Megan’s Law, meaning she must register with police for the rest of her life and that her picture will be displayed as a sexual offender on a website maintained by state police.
The former coach, Kyla A. Hollingshead, 25, of Altoona already has served a 60-day to 23 month term in the Blair County Prison and will be on probation for another two-and-a-half years.
Blair County First Assistant District Attorney Jackie Bernard said after the ruling by Judge Timothy M. Sullivan that the two teen female soccer players who came forward to testify against Hollingshead showed great courage.
She said the young women decided to reveal what Hollingshead was doing to them so that other students wouldn’t have to experience what they did.
Hollingshead was sentenced last December after she entered guilty pleas to institutional sexual assault and corruption of minors.
She was the first person charged in Blair County with an expanded version of the institutional sexual assault statute passed by the General Assembly in response to the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked Penn State nearly three years ago.
Institutional sexual assault was a charge in Pennsylvania that was first designed to protect male and female inmates from abuse while they were behind bars.
After Sandusky was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years behind bars, the definition of institutional sexual assault was expanded to include schools employees and volunteers, offering greater protection to students.
The judge at sentencing ordered an evaluation of Hollingshead under Megan’s Law to determine if she is a sexually violent predator, a condition that means she suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes her likely to engage in predatory sexual offenses.
After the case was referred to Pennsylvania’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, a controversy arose.
Corrine Scheuneman, a psychologist with the state board, and Timothy P. Foley, a licensed psychologist for the defense, agreed Hollingshead was a predator, but Scheuneman offered the opinion that Hollingshead suffered from hebephilia, a condition in which predators take a sexual interest in teens who are naive but maturing in their sexual interests.
Foley objected to hebephilia being considered by the court as a condition that would qualify Hollingshead as a predator.
He pointed out hebephilia is not mentioned in the DSM, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used by professionals who are assessing individuals.
Scheuneman responded that while hebephilia is not mentioned in the DSM, it is a disorder “widely accepted in the field.”
She said the “DSM (is) a guide and not an exhaustive list of disorders.”
Scheuneman testified in June that “hebephilia is about a pattern of conduct that involves sexual deviant behavior.”
Hollingshead became involved with the two soccer players at their respective ages of 15 and 16.
She used “grooming” techniques to get close to the girls, texting them, buying them gifts, giving them rides and taking them to her home to watch movies.
Another aspect of Hollingshead’s relationships was an attempt to emotionally manipulate the girls. The facts of the case revealed Holllingshead threatened suicide when one of the girls no longer wanted a relationship with her.
Sullivan issued an 11-page opinion Wednesday morning stating the prosecution had proved “by clear and convincing evidence” that Hollingshead is a sexually violent predator.
He pointed out in his opinion that Scheuneman’s report indicated Hollingshead had “at least three additional potential victim relationships” in her behavioral history.
The judge held a short hearing so that Hollingshead could sign the necessary papers indicating she understands her responsibilities under Megan’s Law.
Her Altoona attorney Steven P. Passarello said she is and will comply with all the court’s rules.
However, he can appeal the judge’s finding on the sexual predator issue.
Only a few females have been classified as sexually violent predators in Blair County, the most recent being Tabatha Partsch of Claysburg, designated a predator in June for her sexual abuse of several children at her home.