Court: Alexandria man’s sentence for assault not excessive

Defense contends Hostetler’s remorse wasn’t considered

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled Friday that a Huntingdon County judge did not impose an excessive sentence on a Alexandria man charged with indecent assault of a teenager more than a decade ago.

Daniel R. Hostetler, 57, entered guilty pleas to three charges of indecent assault of the girl for offenses that occurred between 2002-06.

He was charged last year and was sentenced Nov. 29 to a term of 12 to 24 months in a state correctional institution.

The Pennsylvania Inmate Locator indicates that Hostetler is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Houtzdale.

Defense attorney Brian V. Manchester of Centre County appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, contending the sentence was excessive in view of Hostetler’s remorse, which included a confession and apology for his actions in front of his church, and his eventual cooperation with law enforcement.

The Superior Court panel that reviewed the sentence, including judges Anne E. Lazarus, Mary P. Murray and Gene Strassburger, concluded the defense was attempting to show that Huntingdon County Judge George N. Zanic abused his discretion in sentencing because he imposed the maximum sentence for the offenses, despite Hostetler’s remorsefulness.

The Superior Court judges explained that in order to overturn a sentence imposed by a Common Pleas Court judge, the defense was required to raise a “substantial question” of law.

The defense maintained that Zanic “did not provide appropriate reasons for sentencing in the aggravated range of the (state sentencing) guidelines.”

The charges indicated that Hostetler inappropriately touched the young woman while she was clothed.

In imposing his sentence, Zanic said he reviewed statements presented by Hostetler and his supporters and letters submitted by the victim.

He stated to the defendant during sentencing, “You need to look at this from someone who has confessed to this years ago (asking forgiveness in front of the church), and then you have to look at this from the victim’s perspective and when you consider the protection of the public and the gravity of this offense and the life of the victim and the community and your (Hostetler’s) rehabilitative needs, it becomes more difficult,” the judge explained.

Indecent assault in this case, Zanic explained, “is a touching which can be over clothes and that’s what we have here.”

He noted that the victim is now an adult, but Zanic reflected on what must have gone through her young mind and the fact that Hostetler was close to the victim.

“So I’m going to sentence in the aggravated range in this case,” he explained.

With that as a background, the Superior Court opinion, written by Strassburger, concluded Zanic took all aspects of the case into consideration and, the opinion stated … “We conclude that (the defense) has failed to demonstrate that the sentencing court ignored or misapplied the law, exercised its judgment for reasons of partiality, prejudice, bias or ill will, or arrived at an unreasonable decision.”

The defense can request a Supreme Court review of the sentence.