City man pleads to sex charges

Amendolea admits guilt in assaulting child, sentenced to 8-16 years in jail

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A 40-year-old Altoona man rendered guilty pleas to sexual assault charges in Blair County Court on Monday and thanked his victim for her forgiveness.

Shane A. Amendolea, who was scheduled for trial, minced no words when Senior Judge Jolene G. Kopriva asked why he was pleading guilty to charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault.

“I’m guilty,” Amendolea said as he stood before the judge, sometimes shedding tears.

He rendered the pleas in exchange for a negotiated sentence of eight to 16 years in prison, followed by 10 years’ probation.

“He’ll be under supervision for a total of 26 years,” Assistant District Attorney Derek Elensky said.

Elensky and defense attorney Joel Dresbold of Pittsburgh selected a jury about two weeks ago to hear what was predicted to be a five-day trial.

Elensky said he discussed the proposed sentence with the victim, now 18, and her mother, who were supportive.

Amendolea might have received longer incarceration if he had gone to trial and been convicted, Elensky said, but this resolution allows the victim to avoid testifying about what would have been very intimate details.

The victim levied accusations against Amendolea in May 2016 when she ran away from home and was found in another state.

Police said the girl, then about 16 years old, reported being afraid that Amen­dolea was about to start sexually assaulting her again.

In a criminal complaint in support of the charges, police reported that Amendolea started molesting the girl when she was 12 years old after finding her reading about masturbation on a computer.

Police said Amendolea, in response, offered to explain masturbation and show her, telling her that it would make her feel good. Criminal charges indicate that Amendolea continued molesting the girl for about a year, then allegedly had sex with her when she was 14 years old.

The victim watched Amendolea enter his guilty pleas and become emotional as he expressed remorse.

“I think you’re more scared than I was today … and I can tell you regret it.” she said. “I think there’s something wrong with you.”

But before stepping away from the courtroom podium, she concluded with forgiveness.

“I forgive you for what you did to me. … I forgive you,” she said.

Amendolea, in response, thanked her.

“I do appreciate you forgiving me,” he said.

Kopriva praised the victim for being able to forgive Amendolea.

“It takes a lot of strength and courage,” she said.

Kopriva also credited Amendolea for taking responsibility, then suggested he build on that after being directed into treatment for sexual offenders that the state prison will provide.

Elensky said that Amendolea, by entering the pleas, becomes a Tier III sexual offender who will be required to regularly register his address with state police for life.

“It’s a tragic case,” defense attorney Joel Dresbold of Pittsburgh said after Amendolea was escorted out of the courtroom for return to the Blair County Prison. He has been housed there since June 2016, with bail set at $100,000 cash. Amendolea will be credited with time already served.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.