HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Greenfield Township construction worker will serve one to two years in Blair County Prison for the sexual abuse of a young girl that started when she was 8 years old.
John T. Houp, 29, of Dunnings Highway was charged with 13 offenses, including three counts of indecent assault of a child under 13, and additional counts of indecent exposure and corruption of a minor.
The charges came after the girl was questioned at the Children's Resource Center, a child advocacy center in Harrisburg, after her mother reported the accusations last September to Greenfield Township police.
Recently the prosecution sought to amend the criminal complaint against Houp to include charges of child rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.
Houp's attorney, Douglas Keating, requested a hearing before Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan. When it came time for the hearing Friday morning, Keating and Assistant District Attorney Derek Elensky had arrived at a plea agreement.
Houp then entered guilty pleas to one count each of indecent assault of a child under 13 and corruption of a minor.
Sullivan sentenced Houp to one year minus a day to two years minus two days in the county prison.
He will also serve five years' probation under supervision by the Blair County Adult Parole and Probation Office.
Houp requested work release, meaning he could leave the prison to go to work each day. At the request of Elensky, Sullivan said if Houp is granted work release, he will be required to wear an ankle bracelet for monitoring.
Sullivan also ordered that Houp's case undergo a review under Megan's Law by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board to determine if he is a violent sexual predator.
If he is not found to be a predator, he will be required to register with state police for 10 years. If he is declared a predator, he will have to register for the rest of his life.
Elensky said new regulations will take effect in December in Pennsylvania under the federal Adam Walsh Act, which may have registration requirements that are different from those outlined in their plea agreements.
Sullivan gave Keating time to review the Adam Walsh Act, after which Keating said Houp understood the situation but still wanted to go through with the plea agreement.
Keating said if Houp had gone to trial, he could have ended up with a state prison sentence of many years.
From the prosecution's side, Elensky said the one-to-two year sentence was acceptable because of the detrimental effect to the young victim, who is now 12, if she had to testify about her experiences with Houp.
"We think it is in the best interest of the child," Elensky said. "She's only 12 years old. This is the best way to protect her."
He said the agreement means the girl did not have to go through the ordeal of testifying and she can move on with her life.
Houp did not speak at the sentencing, nor did the victim's parents or grandparents.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.