HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Blair County assistant district attorney said Friday he will seek a 25-year minimum prison sentence for an Altoona man convicted late Thursday of indecent assault of a 12-year-old girl who was visiting his home in March 2011.
The jury of eight men and four women took just over an hour to make a decision in the case, which was tried before Judge Elizabeth Doyle on Wednesday and Thursday.
For the most part, the jury decision was in Ray Hale's favor.
The jury found Hale, 54, guilty of indecent assault of a child under 13 years of age but not guilty of child rape and statutory sexual assault. The jury stated the prosecution had "not proven" charges that Hale had touched the girl's private parts.
Assistant District Attorney Dan Kiss said he will file a required notice of intent to seek the mandatory sentence because of Hale's previous convictions for sexually abusing children in 1995 and 2002.
"It is way too scary to allow him [Hale] back out [of prison]," Kiss said.
Hale will be sentenced by Doyle on Oct. 5.
Hale's attorney, Assistant Public Defender John Siford, said Friday, "I respect the verdict the jury returned."
Siford said he must review the legality of a mandatory 25-year sentence before commenting on it.
This week, the jury heard testimony from two girls, one who was 15 and the other who was 12 at the time of the incident.
The older girl was known to Hale and was a family friend.
The girls didn't know the date of the assault, but they remembered it was after school on a snowy, cold day.
They said they initially went to the home of a friend near Hale's home on the 700 block of Second Avenue. When they learned the friend was not home, the older girl decided to ask Hale to drive them home.
Hale agreed and invited the girls into his house, where he told them to wait in an upstairs bedroom.
According to the story told by the girls, Hale eventually came into the bedroom, told the older girl to be quiet and then raped the younger girl.
Hale testified that the girls were not at his house in March 2011 and that there was no sexual assault of the 12-year-old.
He presented evidence that his television cable had been turned off in 1999 and said the only TV station he could get was WTAJ. Hale related this story to the jury to counter statements by the girls that they were watching the Disney Channel when the rape occurred.
Siford told the jury the girls made up the story "maybe seeking attention, maybe they had a grudge with Mr. Hale."
He said the older girl had gotten into trouble near the time of the reported abuse and suggested she decided to tell a story about Hale to deflect police attention away from her case.
He said once the girls told a lie, they felt they had to continue to tell it.
"This did not occur. It is not a rape case. It is lying," said Siford.
Kiss lashed out at the defense, pointing out that the girls were shown pictures of the bedrooms at the Hale home and picked out the bedroom where they contended the assault occurred.
He also related how difficult it would have been for the girls, who cried on the witness stand, to make up a story that would bear up under police investigation.
"You saw two crushed little souls get on the stand," Kiss told the jury.
Although Kiss wasn't permitted to ask Hale about his past convictions, county court records show that Hale in 2000 was accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old visitor to his home. In 2002, he entered a no-contest plea to indecent assault and was placed on probation for two years by Judge Daniel Milliron,
Hale went to jury trial in 1996 for repeatedly sexually assaulting a boy and girl, both under 13 years of age. As the jury deliberated, Hale agreed to plead no-contest to sexual assault of the children and was sentenced to 11 to 23 months behind bars by Judge Jolene G. Kopriva.