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Court upholds lengthy sentence

Huntingdon County man given 70 years in prison for child rape

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia has upheld a 70-year prison sentence imposed on a Huntingdon County man who pleaded guilty to production of child pornography and witness tampering, despite testimony by an area psychiatrist that he may have been suffering from a “brain disorder” when committing the offenses.

The lengthy federal sentence was imposed on Jay Eugene Reed, 59, of Three Springs, during an Oct. 30, 2018, hearing before U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane in Harrisburg.

Reed’s federal sentence is to run concurrently, or at the same time, as state sentences of 22 years, 6 months to 45 years levied by Huntingdon County Judge George N. Zanic on three charges of rape of a child.

The defendant is housed at the U.S. Prison in Tucson.

His state sentence, according to court documents, remains under appeal.

Huntingdon County Assistant District Attorney Julia Wilt said Friday the appeal is temporarily on hold pending the outcome of three other similar cases that are before the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Reed is appealing the length of his state sentence.

The federal sentence of 70 years was appealed by U.S. Public Defender Frederick W. Ulrich on Nov. 11, 2018, contending that the judge did not follow proper procedure in sentencing Reed and contesting the sentence as “substantially unreasonable.”

The defense argument was reviewed by a panel of judges from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that included Midge Rendell, Cheryl Ann Krause and Paul Matey.

The panel found no error in the judge’s sentence, pointing out the lengthy sentence imposed by Kane was 20 years below the maximum penalty for Reed’s crimes as outlined under federal sentencing guidelines.

During the sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Meredith A. Taylor, argued for a 90-year sentence.

The 3rd Circuit panel also ruled that the sentencing judge did not abuse her discretion in imposing the sentence “given the nature and severity of Reed’s crime and the below-guidelines sentence length.”

It concluded the sentence imposed was “substantively reasonable.”

According to court papers filed in the Reed case, in 2013 he raped several girls who were from 9 to 13 years old.

He pleaded guilty to the rape charges in Huntingdon County, but he also was charged with federal crimes for photographing and intimidating the children he had raped.

The federal sentencing memorandum stated he manipulated the children by presenting them with gifts and money.

The FBI located 200 images of child pornography on Reed’s electronic devises.

Investigators also found 300 images of children collected from the internet and a video of children being sexually abused.

A federal grand jury on Sept. 9, 2015, charged him with production of child pornography, possession of child pornography and tampering with a victim or witness.

The later charges stemmed from his attempt to persuade the children to remain quiet about what occurred to them and attempted to keep the children from going to a child advocacy center to be interviewed about their experiences.

The federal prosecutor in her sentencing memorandum stated, “On behalf of the victims who will suffer for a lifetime because of the abuse meted out by Jay Reed, and to protect the community from Reed victimizing anyone in the future, the United States respectfully requests a 90-year sentence for this defendant.”

The defense, stating Reed had remorse, requested a 15-year sentence.

It contended the defendant was suffering from “progressive dementia.”

The 3rd Circuit opinion referenced two psychiatric reports concerning Reed that were prepared by Altoona psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Silverman.

The reports enabled the defense to argue that Reed’s pedophilic behavior was not inherent, but a symptom of a “brain disorder.”

The appeals court stated that Silverman appeared at Reed’s sentencing and stated Reed’s brain dysfunction “may have induced the change in sexual interest and behavior that led to criminal activity.”

Silverman distinguished inherent pedophilia from “late-in-life” pedophilic behaviors.

However, Silverman acknowledged no such distinction has been recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the opinion stated.

The 3rd Circuit concluded that the judge appropriately balanced Silverman’s testimony against the severity of Reed’s crimes.

The judge stated her sentence was imposed to punish the defendant, deter others from committing similar crimes and to recognize the severity of harm to the victims.

The government argued that Reed blamed “weakness,” “dementia and/or sleep apnea” for what he did.

“None of these excuses suggest true remorse by Reed,” according to the prosecution argument.

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