HOLLIDAYSBURG - An 11-year-old elementary school student on Wednesday stood in a Blair County courtroom just a few feet from the man accused of persistently sexually abusing her over a three-year period, and she told him, "You have to understand the things you did were bad."
The youngster, poised, but with tears in her eyes, said "I want to move ahead of this."
But to move on with her life, she said she needed to know that she was safe from her abuser, Philip Reid McCready, 36, of Altoona.
With him visiting in her neighborhood when she was much younger, between ages 5 and 8, she said she was afraid to go outside.
She admitted it was difficult to talk about what McCready did to her.
"I need to know I am safe from all harm," she concluded.
Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle was also just a few feet away from the girl, and she listened intently to the girl, leaning forward over her high judge's bench.
When the girl was done speaking, the judge imposed a sentence on McCready that will ensure the youngster won't have to worry about McCready well into her adult years.
Doyle sentenced him to 25-50 years in a state correctional institution on charges of child rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, false imprisonment, indecent assault of a person under 13 years of age and other offenses.
Probation and a fine were not appropriate in such a case, Doyle stated as she imposed her sentence.
McCready, when he was 18 years old, committed sexual offenses, and Doyle said now almost two decades later he is still committing the same type of crime.
She said McCready has anti-social tendencies, and he violated the girl's trust and the trust of the girl's mother, with whom he had a close relationship.
What he did, she said, was "emotionally cruel and physically painful."
He also faces additional charges involving another child.
McCready, just like his victim, was also given the chance to speak by Doyle.
In a barely audible voice, he proclaimed his innocence, which he has done since the beginning of the prosecution against him. He apologized because he has put his family through so much strain.
His mother, Deborah, of Duncansville spoke on his behalf and said she loved her son regardless of what has happened.
The sentencing phase of the case followed a presentation by Corrine Scheuneman, a psychologist with the Pennsylvania Sexual Assessment Review Board.
Blair County Assistant District Attorney Ilissa Zimmerman presented Scheuneman in an effort to show that McCready should be classified under Megan's Law as a sexually violent predator.
She discussed her review of McCready's crime and determined he met the criteria as a violent predator, a classification that means McCready will have to register with state police annually as a sexual predator for the rest of his life.
Scheuneman said McCready was a pedophile and suffered from a personality disorder.
McCready was arrested after his victim, while attending a picnic, told a friend about some of the things McCready had done to her.
The friend reported what she had been told, and Allegheny Township police were called into the case.
Representatives of Blair County Children Youth and Families had the youngster interviewed at the Children's Resource Center in Harrisburg, a child advocacy center, and taped an interview in which the youngster talked about what happened to her.
That 41-minute interview was played for the jury during the McCready trial. It took the jury only 45 minutes to convict him of 16 offenses.
The victim's mother tearfully told McCready it was his actions that got him in trouble. As she read her statement to the judge, she trembled.
"You betrayed my trust in you," she told McCready.
She said she hoped McCready finds the help he needs.
"It breaks my heart it came to this," the mom continued.
At the end of her very emotional statement, and while walking back to her seat in the courtroom, the young victim stood and gave her mother a hug.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.