City man pleads to sexual assault of teen
Victim speaks about effects of Burd’s actions
HOLLIDAYSBURG — An Altoona man who pursued a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old teenager and led police on a 33-mile chase in November 2018 when attempting to flee police, has been sentenced to 18 to 40 years in prison.
Blair County Judge Jackie Atherton Bernard handed down the recommended sentence Friday to 32-year-old Jonathan Lee Burd in exchange for guilty pleas to multiple counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, recklessly endangering another person, statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of a minor.
“I hope you have a miserable life,” the now 17-year-old teenager told Burd in Blair County Court, where she glanced toward the seated defendant after finishing her statement. The girl acknowledged in her statement that at one time, she trusted and listened to Burd.
“You got into my head and for the longest time, I didn’t believe anything anyone said about you or what you were doing,” she said.
The teenager, who was running away with Burd on the night of the high-speed chase that began near Everett in Bedford County and ended with a crash in Hollidaysburg, said she still deals with the aftereffects.
“I still clench up at sudden stops, at cars too close for comfort, and that’s all because of you,” the teenager said. “You could have killed me that day (of the crash). And it sickens me that I was only caring and worrying about you when I should have been worried about myself and how my life was flashing before my eyes.”
Defense attorney David Beyer told Bernard that his client was sorry about what happened. By rendering the guilty pleas, Burd is stepping forward and taking responsibility, Beyer said.
After Bernard told Burd she was disappointed to hear he had nothing to say, Burd, whose head had been bowed, apologized to the teenager and to her mother.
“I am sorry for what I’ve done,” he said.
Bernard pointed out that the effects of Burd’s actions extend beyond the teenager and her family. She referenced the police officers involved in the high-speed chase and the owners of two vehicles that he crashed into, including one seeking $10,000 in restitution.
“I’m not OK with what I did,” Burd said. “I have to live with what I did. … I’m deeply sorry this ever happened.”
Assistant District Attorney Derek Elensky asked Bernard to accept the negotiated plea agreement which imposes “a stiff sentence” and resolves the charges to the satisfaction of the victim without the trauma of a jury trial.
“Her bravery is the main reason we’re here today,” Elensky said.
The assistant district attorney also praised police for their efforts and cooperation, including Cpl. Nathan Snyder of the Altoona Police Department, who investigated and filed the child sexual offenses, and Trooper Jason Kuhn of Bedford State
Police who filed the chase-related charges.
Because Burd rendered guilty pleas to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and statutory sexual assault, Bernard advised him that he will need to regularly register his address and related information with state police for the rest of his life.
The judge also directed Burd, currently incarcerated at Blair County Prison, to be transferred to the state prison system as soon as possible.