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Former Bellwood man wants record expunged

Coho says criminal past has limited job offers

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A former Bellwood man who finished five years of probation for statutory sexual assault is asking Blair County Court to expunge that offense, thereby removing his criminal record from public view.

Jared D. Coho, who was 18 years old when he engaged in sexual relations with a 13-year-old girl in July and August 2011 in Antis Township and Bellwood, submitted a no contest plea to the offense in February 2014.

In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped three additional counts of statutory sexual assault and charges of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and corruption of minors.

Coho, now 28 years old, lives with his wife and children in Kansas where he installs windows and doors for a living.

He’s a talented automobile restoration artist who is being rejected for jobs because of the second-degree felony on his criminal record, defense attorney Douglas Keating told President Judge Elizabeth Doyle during a court hearing Friday.

During the hearing, Coho named several potential employers he has approached for jobs and ones who approached him before reneging. One of the potential employers, Coho said, advised that if he had any felonies, or even a misdemeanor, then he wasn’t eligible for employment.

Assistant District Attorney Deanne Paul told Doyle she contacted the victim in the case who is now married with two children.

“She does not object to the expungement,” Paul said.

Keating pointed out that Coho’s sentencing order included the option of expungement after probation was complete.

Paul said she wouldn’t offer a position on the request, but questioned if there’s a legal basis for expungement to be considered.

Doyle, who is considering Coho’s request, acknowledged that she needs to identify if she has the authority to address the request. In light of the difficulty Coho reported and in light of the victim’s position indicating Coho has “paid his debt,” the judge said she will do some research.

While Pennsylvania introduced the Clean Slate legislation last year allowing some criminal records to removed from public view, that law applies mostly to summary and misdemeanor offenses and charges without convictions.

In June 2016, Blair County Judge Wade Kagarise was asked to review a petition to expunge the record of a local man who wanted to have his 1988 corruption of minors offense removed from his record because it cost him his job, in 2015, as a swimming pool manager.

In a petition to the court, the man argued that the offense was more than 20 years old, but that reason wasn’t deemed valid, based on reasons the state allows criminal records to be expunged. When the man didn’t show in court for a hearing on his petition, Kagarise denied the expungement request.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

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